b'Second-Annual Campground Owners Expo Expected to be Bigger, Better than the FirstnBY BEN QUIGGLE tion on the planet that you can go to and After an inaugural conference that wasbring five people for $200, she noted. filled with plenty of energy, the CampgroundOn the education front, Severson would-Owners Expo (COE) is returning to Bran- nt spill the details on who the conference son, Mo., from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.keynote speaker was going to be. Co-founded by Lori Severson, who isThey arent totally confirmed, but we the owner of Severson & Associates andare excited about who it is, she said. executive director of the Wisconsin Asso- Koep is going to be doing three different ciation of Campground Owners, along withsessions on digital trends, how campers are Bud Styer, owner of Bud Styer Associates,finding parks and more. last years show was held closer to Christ- We also have someone who will be talk-masDec. 15-18and attracted moreing about in-store displays, another lady will than 250 attendees, and over 100 vendors.be speaking about how a park can be a part We were able to book ahead this yearof the community and how to build excite-and get a little closer to the dates that wement about your park, noted Severson. wanted, Severson told Woodalls Camp- We have got other sessions on legal and ground Magazine (WCM).accounting issues, guest services, person-Majorsponsorsoftheeventincludeality styles, employment issues, time man-PlainsCraftCoveredWagons,Accessagement and more. Parks, Blackhawk Bank, Campgrounds forThe show will also have sessions geared Sale, CampgroundViews.com, Commer- toward people who are looking to open a cial Recreation Specialists, Coverra In- park. surance, Utility Supply Group and WCM.We want to help them understand what Severson said that she and Styer createdthey need to know to open a park, Sever-the event as a cost-effective way for smallerThe Campground Owners Expo is expecting even more vendors in year two.son mentioned. I think so many times peo-park owners to gather and benefit from ed- ple come in under-financed to be able to run ucational sessions and networking events.their history and how they have remainedWednesday (Nov. 30) afternoon at Andya campground, and that gets you in trouble Specifically,parkownerswhodontsuccessful as different generations of theBs, a popular Branson bowling and gameright out of the hopper. We try to educate have access to a state association, she ex- family have taken over. We want to tacklecenter.people and help them with that. plained. That is a huge problem for somequestions like, how did you pass the busi- The event is meant to allow owners toSeverson said she sets up the confer-parks because state associations just helpness down? What did you teach them?let loose with peers, while everyone tellsence so that attendees dont have to spend in so many ways. The education compo- How did you come up with new and ex- their craziest, funniest and most outrageousall day in sessions. nent is so important, and associations areciting strategies to keep that retail thingguest experiences, according to promo- We have mostly half days that allow often the only place that can help ownersgoing?tional material provided.people to take in everything that Branson when it comes to talking about zoning, leg- This year, campgrounds have seen re- After that is finished, attendees will thenhas to offer, she explained. islative issues and those kinds of things.tail sales move up and this will help ownersbe taking a behind-the-scenes tour of AndyAt least one state association, the Illinois Another key reason for which Seversonlearn some different strategies to keep in- Bs, noted Severson. We will see how theCampground Association, is planning to and Styer created the COE was to offer ex- creasing business, she added.facility operates activities from bowling tohost its annual meeting at the event, some-periential events that allow park owners toSeverson told WCM that she is also ex- escape rooms and all of those kinds ofthing Severson hopes more smaller state learn from other businesses that have beencited about a networking event that will bethings.associations take advantage of. around for decades.hosted by Mark Koep, founder of Camp- Severson said the behind-the-scenes ex- It is tough, especially for vendors, to This year we are excited to be meet- groundViews.com and host of several pop- periences are what separate the COE frommake it to all the smaller shows when you ing the owners of the Five & Dime storeular park owner Facebook pages includingother national conventions in the outdoorarent going to have very many people to in-in Branson, which has been family ownedThe Padded Room of Rants and the RVhospitality industry. The price point for at- teract with, so that is why we are working for over 60 years, Severson said. TheyPark/Campground Owners and Managerstendees is also key.to provide a space for everyone to get to-are going to talk with attendees aboutOperations&MarketingForum,onI am pretty sure that there is no conven- gether, she said. We pay for the space anyways, so we are offering meeting rooms for free to any of the state associations that are either trying to form or already have one. On the vendor side, Severson said that the COE already has more vendors signed up than the number that participated last year. We are expecting to double the number from last year, she explained. In 2021, Commercial Recreation Spe-cialist set up a beach area in the expo hall and Severson told WCM that should be back again this year. The great thing about this venue is that it offers us a ton of space and it gives us opportunities to be creative with vendors who want to work with us, she explained. It is a big space, but last year the entire event felt very intimate, and I think that is what resonated so well with vendors and at-tendees. Dennis Steinman, the founder of Plain-sCraft Covered Wagons, was one of those attendees and he noted to WCM that the show allowed the company to sell a couple of wagons. We met a lot of great, interesting people at the conference last year, he explained. I am looking forward to it again this year. When asked what type of attendees the COE is set to attract, Severson noted that the industry is changing, with more corpo-rate owners coming into the market, but Campground Owners Expocontinued on page 3312 December 2022Woodalls Campground Magazine'