Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) is set to bring its first Virtual Convention to franchisees across the U.S. and Canada next week. While moving the annual KOA Convention, originally planned to take place in Las Vegas, Nev., online has come with its challenges, attendees can expect a unique, immersive virtual environment, according to KOA officials.
“COVID definitely made us switch things up pretty quickly,” admits Kama Humphrey, KOA’s director of training and events. “But I think that unexpected challenge really gave us a chance to be creative and innovate. While we’ll all miss the in-person experience, I’m really proud of what we’ve created.”
Knowing that this would be their first Virtual Convention, Humphrey tasked her team with attending as many virtual events as possible. Doing so allowed them to learn firsthand what worked well and what didn’t. It also gave them the spark to realize they wanted to create something entirely unique that still felt like KOA – even on a computer screen.
“If there’s one thing we realized quickly, it’s that just watching videos wasn’t the interactive experience we wanted to achieve,” said Humphrey. “We want our owners and guests to have the same ‘wow’ experience they have when they join us in person.”
KOA’s Virtual Convention takes place in a 360-degree, immersive campground setting. The environment is a custom-built solution that brings a more familiar and fun feel to the online convention space. Complete with Deluxe Cabins, RV sites and a playground, attendees will have a lot to explore.
“Attending our share of online conventions this year, we all agreed that virtual convention halls can feel pretty boring,” Humphrey shares. “Creating our own space from the ground up was a challenge, but I can absolutely tell you that in seeing the finished product we made the right decision.”
Just over 300 campgrounds are registered to attend the Virtual Convention, however actual attendance will be much higher. Typically charged on a per-person basis, this year’s format opens attendance to a wider group of managers and employees. This means KOA is expecting a record-breaking year for participation.
“We made the decision to charge on a campground basis to allow more access for campground staff,” explained Humphrey. “There is really such added value to sharing our content with a wider KOA audience.”
Daily general sessions featuring updates from key KOA personal, including CEO and President Toby O’Rourke, are on deck to discuss business results and new initiatives. KOA will also be hosting its Idea Xchange and annual awards program. This year’s Keynote will be delivered by author and leadership expert Patrick Lencioni.
In addition to general sessions, virtually hosting allows for more workshop content. Typically, 20 to 25 breakout workshops are offered, but the Virtual Convention will offer more than 30 live and on-demand workshops on topics ranging from revenue management to insurance considerations to marketing.
- Live workshops include:
- Effectively Manage Your Guest Complaints
- Campground Insurance Trends: The Impacts of Pandemics & Disasters
- Embracing Diversity Among Your Guests & Staff
- Get More Loyal Campers to Your KOA with Value Kard Rewards
- Improve Your Sites to Increase Revenue
- Building Campground Value in a Pandemic
- Managing Your Finances in Times of Crisis
- It’s Time to Replant KOA Kamp Green
- K2 New Functionality – Part 1
- Media & You: Targeted and Trendy
- Making Sure Long-Term Guests Aren’t a Long-Term Problem
- K2 New Functionality – Part 2
- Creating YOUR Action Plan for Success
- Navigating the J-1 Visa Work & Travel Program
- The Art of the Hot Deal
KOA’s annual Vendor Expo, a favorite among campground owners, will have its own virtual space. Attendees will be able to stroll from booth to booth with just a mouse click and chat with vendors quickly and easily.
“Each vendor can really customize their booth to fit their needs and best highlight their product,” Humphrey explains. “You’ll be able to check out a video, read information, view product photos, and even live chat right in our online space.”
And if you’re worried about the networking that is so important at a convention, the KOA Virtual Convention has an answer. Six networking lounges offer attendees the chance to connect in real-time.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a virtual experience that rivals the excitement of an in-person convention. While that seems like a tall task, it’s one that KOA has worked to meet.
“Dialing into a webinar is easy,” admits Humphrey. “It was really up to us to rise to the challenge and create something truly engaging. We think we’ve done that and created a Virtual Convention that will easily rival anything offered. We’re really excited for our franchisees to see what we’ve created.”