b'QUESTION & ANSWER nBY BEN QUIGGLESun Outdoors Continues Growth Pattern, Eyes Adding Even More Parks in Future EDITORS NOTE: The following interview took place prior to the Dec. 21 announcement that Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), the franchisor of more than 70 Yogi Bears Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, had been acquired by Sun Outdoors, formerly known as Sun RV Resorts. (You can read more about the acquisition on page 3.) Sun Outdoors is seeing tremendous growth as demand for outdoor travel continues to surge. From RVing to glamping and even tent camping, more people are looking for experiential activities in natural settings. Part of the rebrand includes the introduction of four sub-brand di-visions within Sun Outdoors that give guests the flexibility to choose how they want to experience the outdoors. Sun Outdoors continues to add amenities and expand the parks it owns, while also acquiringThe sub-brands include Sun Outdoors for short-term vacation re-and building new parks at a rapid pace. Credit: Ocean Breeze Resort/Sun Outdoors sorts, offering travelers expansive grounds, unique amenities and pro-gramming; Sun Retreats for seasonal vacation resorts that attract guests in search of longer stays; Sun Resorts & Residences for 55-plus resorts offering long-term active-living amenities and programming; and Sun Uncharted for glamping resorts designed for travelers looking for a mys-tical, picture-perfect backdrop. Sun Outdoors is also continuing to de-velop RV parks and actively seeks more parks to acquire as it works to expand its brand throughout North America that al-ready includes RV 175 parks. WoodallsCampgroundMagazine (WCM) spoke with Nate Philippsen, vice president of marketing at Sun Outdoors, to look at how the company has grown, why it rebranded, what it plans to focus on moving forward and how it views the Nate Philippsen outdoor hospitality industry in general. Philippsen has worked with Sun Out-doors for two-and-a-half years and brings a background in hotels to his role at the company. Previously he worked for Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG. Below is our edited conversation.WCM: Just to start, since you have ex- in a box in a room. It would be very odd perience in the hotel industry, WCM getsto go next door and knock on the door comments from park owners on the dif- and say, Hi, Im on vacation, too, but in ferences between campgrounds and ho- an RV resort, thats what you do. You talk tels from an operational perspective. Itto the individuals and families right next seems that maybe both are implement- to you. I think just that close sense of ingproceduresthatareeliminatingcommunity that camping offers is really some of those differences. What are youra difference, and thats what makes it thoughts on the differences between thespecial. two hospitality options?WCM: We have seen a lot of consoli-Nate Philippsen: I think you could lookdation and we have seen a lot of new at it a couple of different ways when itentrants to the market that historically comes to hotels or a brand. There arehavent been in the outdoor hospitality multiple different locations. Like Sunindustry. With all these new developers Outdoors, we have 175 locations. So,moving into the segment, how does the how do we communicate to our guestsindustry keep the campground experi-all our offerings in different locations?ence the same as it has been in the past? In that way, its similar.Philippsen:Thattopicandkeeping One other way is the guests we caterthat a priority is top of mind for every-to. Whether in hotels or at RV resorts,body at Sun Outdoors. The reason why guests are looking for quality service.were in this, and we have this Sun Out-Theyre looking for connection to ourdoors brand, is because people want to team members and our team membersgo outdoors and have the desire to ex-need to be knowledgeable. Theyre look- perience that sense of community and ing for clean, well-maintained resorts,friendship with the person right next to which is just the same on the hotel side,them. That on-the-site, on-the-ground too.resort experience is paramount to us. Those are some of the similarities.We dont want to change all of that on-When it comes to differences, of course,the-ground experience. We dont want it the obvious is with RV parks you haveto be lost. this phenomenal place that spreads farWCM:YourebrandedtoSunOut-out, right? Youre experiencing the out- doors this past fall, why did you feel the doors. Youve got campfires. Youve gotneed to make the change? The Sun RV more sense of a community with yourResorts name had been around for a neighbors and the family right next towhile, and I am sure it had some name you on a site versus hotels where yourerecognitionamongcampers,sohow 26 February 2022Woodalls Campground Magazine'