The number of parks in the Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) system isn’t the only thing growing at North America’s oldest and largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds.

The 475-campground KOA system recently announced that membership in its two-year-old Value Kard Rewards camper loyalty program had surpassed 400,000 active accounts.

“We’ve seen strong growth in our Value Kard Rewards Program, especially in the past year,” said Chris Mink, marketing program manager for the Value Kard Rewards Program. “Campers are very saavy consumers. No program will grow at the rate we’ve experienced unless campers recognize real value and savings.”

In 2009, members of the KOA Value Kard Program saved nearly $1 million by redeeming Value Kard Rewards “points” at KOA campgrounds.

“KOA Value Kard Rewards is the only program in camping that offers guests both an immediate discount on their camping fees (10% off), and rewards points that accumulate for savings on their future camping stays,” Mink said. “The purpose of this program is to get more campers camping within the KOA system. We want campers to spend these points on KOA camping every chance they get.”

“We know our program works, because we’ve seen a marked increase in loyalty camping among the members of the Value Kard Rewards Program,” he said.

In 2009, the average number of nights stayed at KOA campgrounds by Value Kard Rewards members increased 5%.

“We’ve also seen a 9% increase in the average number of camping trips taken by KOA Value Kard Rewards members,” Mink said. “That is exactly what our program is designed to accomplish.”

Of the 400,000 members, nearly 16,000 have reached the elite VIP level by accumulating 20,000 points in a 12-month period. The VIP level allows those campers to accumulate Value Kard Rewards points at a rate 25% faster than regular Value Kard Rewards members. “These are our very best KOA campers, and we wanted to reward them accordingly,” Mink said.

Each of KOA’s campground owners and franchisees use the Value Kard Rewards database to actively market additional benefits and special Hot Deals to their campers throughout the year.

“We’ve been able to deepen our relationship with our guests,” Mink said. “That’s the true value of a program like ours. It certainly bolsters our claim that KOA offers a camping experience – including our rewards program – that you just can’t get anywhere else. That’s why we use the slogan “It’s not camping. It’s Kamping.’”

“Of course, none of this works unless you have great KOA owners at wonderful facilities across North America to provide that fantastic camping experience that they are looking for,” he said. “You have to have real value in place to grow at this pace.”

Mink said that KOA is aggressively looking for new Value Kard Rewards Program partners to offer even more benefits for members of KOA Value Kard Rewards.