b'2023 CONFERENCEThe theme of this years OHCE focused on how to keep the industrys momentum moving in the right direction. Photo: OHIOHI Holds Energetic, Upbeat Conference in Kansas City, Focuses on Industry Growth nBY BEN QUIGGLE The kits provide essentials to peopleI am very optimistic about the econ- lukewarm about camping in the future. The National Association of RV Parksimpacted by disasters and crises. Thisomy and so are campers, with 66% ofA bad experience can cause them to andCampgrounds(NationalARVC)disaster relief effort is in alignment withcampers feeling positive about the econ- take an exit ramp and then we lose them kicked off its Outdoor Hospitality Confer- the OHI Foundations disaster relief pro- omy, she explained. Forty-nine percentasacustomerinthefuture,sheex-ence and Expo (OHCE) with a huge an- gram,whichdistributedmorethanare looking to spend more, 37% want toplained. nouncement in early Novemberit is$20,000 to parks affected by natural dis- take more trips and 33% are looking toORourke said that for new campers, being rebranded to OHI. asters in 2022 and had already distrib- travel even further.staff assistance is key so that they feel The rebranding was the culmination ofuted $30,000 in 2023.ORourke mentioned that many econ- less anxiety and enjoy more time with more than a year of work that includedThe following day, OHI hosted its Take- omists are still wondering whether a re- their loved ones. member surveys and interviews, ideationaway Tours that included stops at Pecu- cession will take place, but noted thatExceptional hospitality is not a one-workshops, hours and hours of thoughtfulliar Park Place RV Park and the KansasKOAalong with other outdoor recre- size-fits-all model, she noted. Demo-collaboration,high-levelresearch,andCity East/Oak Grove KOA Holiday. Theation businessesdid well during thegraphics are shifting dramatically, and testing and evaluation from all angles, ac- tours were sold out again this year, andlast recession. From 2008-2012 the fran- park owners need to recognize that. cording to OHI officials. were accompanied by gorgeous weather.chise system saw a 9.7% increase in rev- ORourke also highlighted that safety is (EditorsNote:YoucanreadmoreLater in the evening, Spot2Nite spon- enues because camping is viewed as ana huge issue for campers, with 37% of about the rebranding on Page 3.) sored a Welcome Reception at the Col- affordable activity and a cost-friendly waycampers saying they do not feel safe and Of course, while the rebranding an- lege Basketball Experience (CBE). Theto travel.secure while camping. nouncement caught everyones attention,event brought in hundreds of attendees there was plenty of other news that cameand featured a wide range of activities out of the annual OHCE, including the factfrom a chance to test your sports broad-that OHI welcomed over 1,200 attendeescast anchoring skills to basketball shoot-and the most ever expo vendors, includ- ing contests and more. ing a record number of park models andOn the opening day of the main portion glamping accommodations (30). of the conference, Kindra Hall gave a Before OHI kicked off its main confer- keynote that focused on storytelling and ence,theOHIYoungProfessionalshow park owners can better tell their own Group (YPG) met to pack hygiene boxesstories to market their parks.as part of an on-site volunteer opportu- Paul Bambei, the president and CEO nity. of OHI, later moderated a panel that fea-More than two dozen people took parttured industry experts and focused on the in the volunteer event which was put onfuture of the industry.through support from Leavitt RecreationThe Outdoor Hospitality and the Fu- Paul Bambei, the president and CEO of OHI, moderated a panel that featured Toby ORourke, and Hospitality Insurance and the OHIturepanelincludedTobyORourke,president and CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc.; Rafael Correa, CFO at Blue Water Devel-Foundation.president and CEO of Kampgrounds ofopment Corp.; Amir Harpaz, owner at Harp Development and a multi-park owner; Ali Ras-The main goal of the National ARVCAmericaInc.;RafaelCorrea,CFOatmussen, CEO and creative director at Spacious Skies Campgrounds; and Todd Wynne-Perry, YoungProfessionalsgroupistobuildBlueWaterDevelopmentCorp.;Amirmanaging director at Horwath HTL and CEO & founder of Montare Hospitality Advisors, LLC.each other up: to be better people, betterHarpaz, the owner at Harp Development leaders, and build a better outdoor hospi- and multi-park owner; Ali Rasmussen,No doubt the economy is a significantMomsaregoingtotaketheirkids tality industry for the future, Tyler Grim,CEO and creative director at Spaciousheadwind for the RV industry and manu- somewhere they feel safe, she said. YPG chair said. Part of that better peopleSkies Campgrounds; and Todd Wynne- facturersareseeingsteepdeclinesinAmenities and accessibility are also and better future means serving our com- Parry, managing director at Horwath HTLshipments, but the positive side is thatkey priorities. munity to ensure it thrives alongside ourand CEO and founder of Montare Hospi- RVing as an activity is still very healthy,Four in 10 campers say they have dif-industry.tality Advisors LLC. ORourke noted. Twelve million house- ficulty walking or climbing stairs and 27% VolunteersworkedwiththelocalIt was kicked off with a short speechholds own RVs already, 47% are morehave difficulties with social interactions Kansas City nonprofit Heart to Heart In- by ORourke that focused on headwindslikely to use an RV for more trips insteadandcommunicationsthatimpacttheir ternational to assemble 450 hygiene kitsand tailwinds impacting the industry.of other types of travel and 21% are likelyability to be exposed to crowds, noted for disaster relief efforts. The Hygiene KitThis is truly an exciting time for thisto buy an RV.ORourke. Campers want to know what Program works to improve the health, hy- industry, she noted. There is more in- She told the audience that 57% of allcampsites are accessible and meet their giene and sense of comfort for under-re- terestincampingandoutdoorexperi- campers are likely to continue campingneeds before they book. sourced persons in the United States andences than ever before, and everyone isand that 44% of all campers are new toWrapping up, ORourke said that the around the world through the creation andhaving record years. At KOA, we are upcamping and had only jumped in over theindustry was heading in a positive direc-distribution of hygiene kits. The hygieneover 40% from where we were before thepast few years.tion. kits are designed to meet the immediatepandemic.ORourke highlighted that the industryI think the outlook is very strong, she hygiene needs of people in crisis and areORourke said many people in the in- needs to continue providing great servicesaid. There are more tailwinds than head-critical to prevent the spread of illnessdustry are wondering whether things willin order to retain campers, with researchwinds ahead of us and we have carved and disease.continue in this direction.showing that 69% of new campers areout a key segment of travel and are poised 18 January 2024Woodalls Campground Magazine'