b'2022 CONFERENCE KOA Gives Franchisees Key Business Updates During Orlando Convention; Celebrates 60 Years nBY BEN QUIGGLEKampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA)use that lens to make your vision a real-continuedtohighlightsignificantity. Ask questions and be curious. growth as its franchisees met Nov. 14-17Chris Scheer, KOAs CFO, who started for the systems International Conven- right before the COVID pandemic, gave tion in Orlando, Fla. attendeesalookateconomichead-KOA celebrated its 60th anniversarywinds that may impact their businesses. in 2022 and Toby ORourke, presidentHe highlighted that inflation is up and CEO of the company, told fran- 7.7% from over a year ago, but down chisees that the company is still em- from a high of 9.1% in June.bracing a startup mentality as it getsThat is the highest growth rate for bullish on future growth. inflation in 40 years, Scheer explained. Amidst the backdrop of the COVIDThings are just more expensive. pandemic, ORourke said that the KOAHenotedthatunemployment system as a whole has seen a surge ofpeaked at 15% during the pandemic new owners entering the system, withand then dropped to 3.5%.41 new owners taking over parks in 2022It has been hard to find employees, on top of the 48 new owners that movedScheer said. There are two job open-into the system last year.ingsforeverypersonthatisunem-Weexpecttohave15moreparkployed right now. conversions completed by the end ofInterest rates have also continued to theyear,ORourkenoted. Wealsoincrease, now up 4.25% in 2022, andKOA broke attendee and vendor records during its Orlando, Fla., show.Photo:KOAhavesixnewbuildcontractsbeingScheer noted other expenses like pay-signed and currently have 27 KOAs inroll, utilities, property taxes and debtleaning on a brand, she explained. Webrandisthemostimportantasset. the development stage.may go up in 2023.are not the only ones doing this.Brand is the relationship driver and we Overthepast10years,shehigh- But Scheer noted that the campingScottalsopointedoutcompanieshave a 60-year-old brand with a high lighted that growth has been substantialindustryisprimedforevenmorelikeHipcampthathavecomeinasreputation for quality. for the KOA system. The system is ex- growth during an economic downturn.startups and are filling gaps in whatEmbrace Failure: Startups look for pected to reach $500 million in registra- Sixty-twopercentofhouseholdsconsumers are looking for. Hipcampit. Understanding and taking risk and tion revenue by the end of 2022.view camping as a more viable optionhas raised over $200 million over sevenbeing able to learn from it is part of That is up 2.2% over 2021 and upduring a down economy, he said.funding rounds since its launch.being an entrepreneur. Find the gaps, 34% versus 2019, ORourke explained.Some other key stats he pointed out:They arent focused on a return onmake improvements and take the risks. Since 2011, registration revenue is up34%arereplacingatripwithainvestmentyetbecausetheyareaOut of the Comfort Zone: Competi-176%.camping trip.startup,notedScott.Mostoftheirtionforcesustobenimbleandde-She mentioned that camper nightsKOAisup7.6%onoccupancymoney is going toward advertising be- mands the very best. Be aggressive and were down 7% this past year and thatnights vs. 2019.cause their investors want to see cus- move forward. 76% of KOAs parks had lower camper KOA currently is seeing an increasetomers. ThatimpactsusallthewayDiane Echler, KOAs vice president of nights, but also pointed out the impactof 7.2% in advanced deposits vs. 2021.fromsinglereservationstobrandmarketing, told attendees that the KOA that COVID has had on the industry asScheer encouraged attendees to con- awareness.brandsaw16billionimpressionsin a whole.tinue to invest in their parks and look atScott said that as long as KOA contin- 2022 due to its marketing efforts, which COVID was an outlier and we haverate/revenue management solutions.ues to focus on the customer first it willincludedsocialmediapromotions, normalized to this new, higher level,KOAsrategrowthisup9.5%vs.continue to come out on top.magazine articles, TV interviews, part-ORourke noted. This year is a new2021, which is keeping up with infla- She highlighted five startup mentali- nerships and more. benchmark that we will use as we looktion, he said.ties to competition:For every $1 we spent on digital ad-at future growth.Scheer also highlighted that now is aSpecialization: Rivalry challenges usvertising, we saw $31 in registration rev-ORourke said that KOA is embracinggreat time to build a park.to find niche areas and strengthen ourenue, she explained. the idea that it is a 60-year-old startup.There are currently three times theexpertise, which is understanding theOn the KOA.com side, there were 19 We need to have that mentality. Wenumber of KOAs under construction vs.market and building to our guests.million KOA.com users in 2022, 1.5 mil-cant just sit back and expect all of thisprior years, he explained.IncreasedVisibility:Advertiserlion reservations through the KOA.com success to come to us, she explained.Whitney Scott, KOAs chief marketingspending can help grow the need forsystem, $295 million worth of registra-ORourke encouraged park owners toofficer, noted that competition has in- camping and other companies can helptionrevenuesthroughtheKOA.com harness the energy in the industry rightcreased for the eyeballs of campers. Shepush campers into our parks. Harvestsystem and 71% of all reservations came now and grow their parks.highlightedthatotherbrands,likeHosts is an example. Sometimes peoplethrough KOA.com. Accept the challenge and think big,Camp Margaritaville RV Resorts, havecant find a winery in a certain area toTheKOAappalsosawsignificant she said. You need to look at what yourcome into the sector and are expandingstay at, so they will look at our parks ingrowth, with an 8.1% YoY growth in rev-business looks like five to 10 years downrapidly.those areas, too.enue and an 18.8% increase in app in-the road and then wind that back andThey understand the importance ofBrand Matters: In the startup world,stallations. KOA vendors displayed a number of different products and services.Networking events allowed attendees to catch up with fellow owners after a busy year. 26 January 2023Woodalls Campground Magazine'