What do the words "journey," "holiday," and "resort" have in common? Not only are they emotional words that instantly bring to mind images of travel, fun and relaxation, they are also the new categories to which every KOA campground will be designated over the next two to three years.
Kampgrounds of America unveiled a new brand positioning strategy last weekend that promises to shake up the outdoor hospitality industry. The change has been 10 to 12 years in the making, KOA President Pat Hittmeier told RV Daily Report. It is designed to allow the company to direct the right marketing messages to the right guests and tie it to what is offered at specific campgrounds.
KOA Chairman Jim Rogers said the move will add clarity to the KOA brand by helping customers better understand what level of service, facilities and amenities are available at each KOA location.
KOA Journey campgrounds are designed to serve traveling campers. About 15 to 20 percent of current KOA campgrounds will be designed as Journey facilities.
The owners and staff at KOA Journey campgrounds best understand how to make traveling guests their priority. Often located right off major highways, Journey campgrounds will welcome travelers who have driven most of the day and anticipate another day of driving when they get up the next day.
Customers visiting KOA Journey facilities want to easily get off the highway, quickly set up for the night and relax. They want a safe, quiet evening and a restful night's sleep. In the morning, they may have coffee and a quick bite to eat, check their route and set off down the road.
KOA Holiday campgrounds will comprise 75 to 80 percent of KOA's current franchises. These facilities offer a basecamp experience to guests looking for a fun and convenient getaway.
Guests are likely to use the KOA Holiday as a starting point for exploring local sights and nearby attractions. They provide the perfect place for a weekend or mid-week stay, but they will also serve long-term campers and snowbirds. It is a place where RVers can enjoy an extended experience and renew relationships with fellow guests.
KOA Resorts are designed for people looking for a complete vacation experience. It is estimated than 5 percent of current KOA campgrounds will fall into the stringent resort category.
Campers will chose a KOA Resort because of its facilities, amenities and atmosphere. Guest will expect a complete package of quality, professionalism, care and service associated with leaders in the hospitality industry -- genuine five star facilities. The resorts will offer an atmosphere that encourages guests to remain at the campground to relax, eat, play and recreate.
"This is not a good, better, best way of looking at our campgrounds. Nor is it a bronze, silver, gold rating system," Hittmeier explained. "It is designed to help guests better understand what they can expect from the KOA facilities at which they chose to stay."
For example, families looking for resort-like accommodations with onsite dining, plenty of pampering and multiple family-oriented activities, are not likely to find them at a KOA Journey campground because those campgrounds are targeting people who arrive late and leave the next morning, or just spend a day or two before moving on in their journeys.
That doesn't mean that Journey guests will not enjoy first-rate service during their stay, because they certainly will, Hittmeier explained. Rather, the designation helps customers better understand what types of experiences and services they will receive at that specific KOA campground.
"A one-size fits all strategy no longer works in this market," said Rogers, who has years of experience in the hospitality industry. He noted that many hotel chains are branding their facilities to convey a level of experience that guests will enjoy.
For example, the Intercontinental Hotels Group offers luxurious Intercontinental Resorts, upscale Crown Plaza facilities, family-oriented Holiday Inn hotels, business-oriented Holiday Inn Express facilities and Candlewood Suites for extended stays.
"People today have a shortage of time. When they take time off, they want it to be the best experience they can enjoy during that limited time. They want to 'know before they go' what they are going to be able to do and what they can expect when they get there. Our brand positions will help convey that message."
Specific criteria has been established for each of the categories, and campground owners will self-select the market they want to reach. Once that selection has been made, the campgrounds will be rebranded with new signage to convey that message to guests.
"The term 'resort' has been greatly abused by the hospitality industry over the years," Rogers explained. "KOA is developing specific criteria as to what a KOA resort should look like and what types of services and facilities they should offer guests."
More information on the criteria used in each of the KOA categories will be the subject of another RV Daily Report feature later this week.