Latest News

  • 15 Aug 2016 1:01 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)
    It is that time of year again - we are accepting nominations for WorkKamper of the Year and We Are Family Awards.  Submissions are dues by October 14, 2016.  Please see Awards and Honors Tab for criteria for both awards.  If you have any questions, please email info@koaowners.org.
  • 11 May 2016 2:38 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    Dangerous Insects of America
    By Cody Smith

    They’re in the grass, in the air, in the trees, and underground. They’re in the jungle, the prairie, the forest, the desert, and the mountains. They can reproduce thousands of offspring at a time, regenerate severed limbs, jump up to 100 times their body length, fly at speeds of over 30 mph, eat double their body weight in one day, and even change color. Insects are a part of our daily life, which isn’t surprising since they vastly outnumber us with an estimated 10 quintillion individuals alive at any given time, giving an insect-to-human ratio of approximately 200 million to one. Luckily for us, over 99% of insects aren’t harmful! In fact, most insects are a crucial part of the environment – providing food for other animals, helping decompose dead matter, pollinating the plants around us, aerating the soil, and countless other beneficial activities. Camping, hiking, kayaking, biking, and other outdoor activities generally put us in direct contact with insects, because when we go out of our home, we’re going into theirs.  For the most part, they’re very accommodating – we do what we want, and although sometimes they can be a nuisance, dangerous encounters are rare. But they do happen… so, campgrounds soon to be buzzing (no pun intended) with visitors, below is a list and brief description of some potentially dangerous insects in the United States that may be encountered while enjoying the great outdoors, along with basic information on treatment after a bite or sting.

    SCORPIONS 

    ARIZONA BARK SCORPION

    This is the only scorpion in the United States that is potentially dangerous to humans, and thankfully they’re only native to the Sonoran Desert, which is located in parts of Arizona and California. Adults are anywhere between 2 ¾ to 3 ¼ inches long, with a light tan to brown coloring. Bark scorpions like to hide under rocks, in wood piles, or under tree bark (hence their name) during the day, while at night they come out to actively hunt for prey. Strangely, bark scorpions actually prefer to be upside down, so this means many stings are from someone reaching under an object with their hand. A great way to detect scorpions of any kind is with an ultraviolet light, something I personally have done with success – unless they have molted within the past couple days, a scorpion will glow under UV light. A sting can cause severe pain, numbness, and tingling, although in severe cases temporary paralysis of the limb stung, muscle convulsions, and difficulty breathing can occur. Overall, the sting is compared to the sensation of electric shock. Only two fatalities have been recorded in Arizona since 1968, even though the annual number of stings is estimated to be in the thousands. A sting from an Arizona bark scorpion should not be taken lightly, though, especially with children or the elderly, and medical attention should be sought immediately in either of these cases or for someone who shows signs of being allergic. If stung, it should be cleaned with soap and water, a cool compress applied, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken to relieve the symptoms. Antivenom is available, as well, and should be given to children or severe cases in which it is necessary.

    SPIDERS

    BLACK WIDOW


    These are one of the most recognizable, and most feared, of any insect – and they do inhabit the entire United States. The females usually measure between ½ to 1 ½ inches in length, are a glossy black color, and can have their signature red marking on either the top or the bottom of the abdomen or none at all. Their venom is strong enough to drop a camel, but human deaths are fairly rare, with about seven in the United States every year attributed to possible black widow bites – such as the Colorado resident who died after being bitten 19 times on the foot in 2011. Black widows are not aggressive, so most bites are caused by accidental encounters in places like wood piles, trash dumps, sheds, gardens, and under rocks, or if they get trapped in a sock or shoe. If someone gets bitten, it can take over 30 minutes for symptoms to take effect. Watch for redness and swelling, an overall “achy” feeling, weakness, vomiting, headache, and nausea. As soon as you or someone else thinks they may have been bit wash the bite with soap and water, elevate the area, keep still, and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Black widow antivenom is very beneficial, although it can make you immune to rattlesnake antivenom, which is something to discuss with the doctor if you have a likely chance of being bit by a rattlesnake (hike frequently in rattlesnake country, handle rattlesnakes, etc.)

    BROWN RECLUSE


    A brown recluse, usually measuring ¼ to ¾ inches, is more difficult to identify since it has no certain markings on the body, although they sometimes have a violin pattern, which cellar spiders and pirate spiders can also have. A good way to identify them is by their eyes – instead of eight, they only have six eyes paired in sets, which really gives the appearance of three eyes without close observation. They also appear to have fuzzy legs because of the fine hairs that grow along them. They tend to like the same living quarters as black widows, although unlike most web building spiders, they will leave their webs at night to actively hunt for food. Their range is from Texas to western Georgia and from Louisiana to southern Iowa. An occasional brown recluse has been found outside this area, but can usually be explained by recent travels to their known range. The name fits it well, as these spiders are not aggressive and tend to only bite if trapped in clothing, gloves, or bedding. A good example is the removal of 2,055 brown recluse spiders from a house in Kansas, home to a family of four – they had never been bitten. In the rare circumstance where someone does get bit, it usually isn’t even felt initially. Pain and itching can follow within 2-8 hours, pain worsens over the next 36 hours, and a visible wound will develop within a few days. An ice pack should be applied as soon as possible, and seek medical attention immediately as there are several treatments that have been fairly successful. Although a brown recluse bite is generally not as dangerous as a black widow, there are rare instances where extremely severe side effects can occur, which may be fatal if left untreated.

    TARANTULAS


    With their stinging hairs, large fangs, heavy bodies, and occasionally measuring up to six inches across, tarantulas are intimidating to say the least. Their range spreads from California to the Mississippi River and from Texas to Missouri, although much larger and more aggressive species exist in other parts of the world. They do not build webs, and generally do not actively hunt for food, but instead prefer to wait near the entrance of their burrow for a small insect to come near enough for a surprise attack. Tarantulas native to America are relatively forgiving, and will only bite someone as a last resort, usually rearing up on their hind legs, slapping their attacker with the front legs, flicking off some of the barbed stinging hairs located on their abdomen, attempting to flee, and then biting, although sometimes even then they will dry bite and not actually inject any venom. There are no known tarantulas that are deadly to humans – their bite is compared to a wasp or bee sting. But, as with all biting and stinging insects, there are those who may have an allergic reaction, and in this case medical attention should be sought immediately. If symptoms other than a stinging sensation (which may last for a couple days) occur, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the throat and mouth, this is evidence of an allergic reaction, which can be fatal if untreated. The stinging hairs, known as urticating hairs, located on their abdomen, while fatal to some small mammals, generally only cause itching or a rash. But extreme caution should be taken to avoid getting these hairs into the eyes or respiratory system, as they have been known to cause permanent eye damage and if lodged in the nasal passages or lungs can be extremely painful.

    WASPS


    As there are over 100,000 species of wasps, a discussion of their various characteristics and behavior is way beyond the scope of this article. I will mention several that are worth keeping an eye out for, though – including yellow jackets, hornets, paper wasps, and Asian giant hornets. Paper wasps get their name for the umbrella shaped paper nest they build, often on the underside of limbs, roof eaves, in sheds, vehicle fenders, and almost any protected location with somewhere to secure the nest to. They can have yellow stripes like a yellow jacket, but tend to be slightly larger (½ to 1 inches in length) and have a more brownish overall coloring. They are the least aggressive out of the wasps listed, and will only attack if threatened.

    Hornets usually make paper nests, as well, but are more aggressive than paper wasps and can also get larger (1-2 inches in length). Hornets are very attracted to water and food, especially sugary items such as soda and fruit, and will often be seen during the summer hovering around picnic tables or water spigots. Yellow jackets have a distinct yellow and black pattern, and measure around ¾ inches in length. They tend to build their nests underground, which can cause stings on the feet for those who like to go barefoot or wear sandals, but they will make nests in walls or roof eaves occasionally. Asian giant hornets are considered by some to be one of the most dangerous insects on earth, and are native to eastern Asia. Only a few stings are enough to kill a human, they can fly over 25 mph, 30-50 will wipe out a hive of tens of thousands of honey bees, and can spray a type of acid at their victims eyes. They have enormous heads (for a wasp), measure about two inches long, and have a three inch wingspan. So, why is it on this list? Asian giant hornets have been reportedly sighted in Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania – one was even killed and photographed on a bee farm (Asian giant hornets actively hunt bees) in Maryland by the owner. If these extremely dangerous hornets are in fact beginning to invade the northeast United States, possibly by hitching a ride on shipped products from eastern Asia, as they are thought to have done in France, it would be a good idea to get educated. Although only the Asian giant hornet has a deadly sting (over 40 people die in Japan every year from Asian giant hornets), any wasp sting can be fatal if the victim is allergic. Pain, redness, and a small welt are usually caused by any wasp sting – but if intense swelling and difficulty breathing occur, it’s time to get to a hospital fast. For stings that do not require hospitalization, a paste of baking soda and water can be mixed and applied to the sting, which will relieve pain and can then be washed off. Any of the above wasps emit a pheromone when stinging or after being smashed that will alert any others nearby and draw them to the location to attack – this is especially dangerous with a wasp such as the Asian giant hornet.

    BEES


    Africanized honey bees are the only consistently dangerous bee in the United States, earning the name “killer bees” by many. Since their accidental release by a Brazilian beekeeper in 1957, they have spread as far as Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Utah, and California. Unlike their cousins, the European honey bee, these Africanized honey bees are much more aggressive. As a swarm, they will chase someone over a mile and attack within a quarter mile of their hive (which can be underground). They’re sting actually has the same potency as a European honey bee, but since they attack in such larger numbers, this makes them much more dangerous. One to two deaths per year are usually credited to “killer bees – as recent as July, 2012, an Arizona resident was killed by a swarm in a Tucson city park. Of course, to someone who is allergic to the sting, any bee can be deadly. After being stung, if dizziness, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat and mouth occurs, this is evidence of an allergic reaction and medical attention should be sought immediately. If you’re stung on the hand, it’s a good idea to remove anything such as a ring or watch, so that further pain and damage isn’t done by them if the sting area begins to swell. Within about 30 seconds of being stung, the stinger should be removed by scraping using a credit card or something similar. Do not squeeze the stinger, using tweezers or fingers, to remove it as this will cause the rest of the venom stored inside the stinger to be released. If you happen to run into a nest of Africanized bees, don’t make any sudden movements, keep animals away, and avoid waving around jewelry or other flashy objects. On the other hand, if the bees begin to attack, RUN. Try to protect your face from being stung, run into the wind, and head towards the nearest shelter such as a house or tent – don’t jump in water, since the bees will wait for you to resurface. If you or someone else has been stung more than 15 times, seek medical attention.

    ANTS


    Two kinds of ants to beware of in the United States are red harvester ants and fire ants (or red ants). Both are mainly found in southern and southwestern states, although fire ants are actually an invasive species that were accidentally brought aboard a South American cargo ship to Alabama in the 1930s. Both can build massive underground nests, with visible mounds on the surface reaching up to 15 inches high and over five feet across. Although it may appear that the ant bite is what causes the pain, it’s actually only to keep a firm grip while they sting with a small wasp-like stinger on their abdomen – and believe me, fire ants aren’t named for their color! Ants are sort of like flightless hornets, and will swarm and attack if their nest is threatened, which can be painful for anyone standing in close proximity. People have even been known to be stung while swimming, probably by a fire ant that fell in the water and hitched a ride on the passing swimmer. As with the other insects we’ve discussed, these ants are especially dangerous to someone with an allergic reaction – in 2008 an elderly man, allergic to the stings, died when a colony of fire ants washed into his home after tropical storm Fay. External treatments for ant bites include hydrocortisone cream and aloe vera gel, or Benadryl for internal use. Although bites can be painful and itchy, scratching can cause infection and scarring. If difficulty breathing, chest pain, sweating, swelling, and/or slurred speech occur, it’s time to seek medical attention immediately as this can be fatal.

    CENTIPEDES


    Growing up to 12 inches long, with 30+ legs capable of piercing skin, and two venom injecting fangs up front gives this creature an understandable reputation. And although I must admit it is frightening to run into, much more than a honey bee or wasp, the sting (which is really more like a bite) is actually very similar. Their range extends across most of the southern United States, but they may be found as far north as southern Missouri. I personally captured a six inch Texas redheaded centipede near Eagle Rock, Missouri, running so fast it appeared to be a snake, across a gravel driveway. There are several species of dangerous centipedes in the United States, including the Texas redheaded centipede, poisonous black centipede, and giant desert centipede, which all vary in appearance, size, and range. Centipedes in general are incredible predators and can take down lizards, snakes, rodents, and even birds that are much larger than themselves, due to their vice-like grip and venom. The bite of a centipede is similar to a bee sting in the sense that it can be painful for up to two days, but death tends to occur only in children or those who are allergic. If you or someone else has been bitten and is known to be allergic, begins to have symptoms such as difficulty breathing or excessive swelling, or in cases involving children, seek medical attention immediately.

    SUMMARY

    There are obviously more potentially dangerous insects that are not covered in this article, such as ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and other species of spiders, scorpions, ants, centipedes, and wasps that may also be dangerous or deadly under certain circumstances. The insects listed above are simply some of the most well known species that tend to be the most aggressive and/or dangerous in the United States. The goal of this article, though, is not to promote fear of insects, but to promote knowledge and understanding of them. Knowing what we’re looking at when we find that wasp or spider in the RV, boat, or tent, can make the difference between unnecessary fear and justified judgment or even escape.

    No, a discussion on dangerous insects is not something most people want to read when planning a camping trip or outing, but it’s absolutely necessary if we want to stay safe while we’re exploring in their habitat. And since we are outnumbered 200 million to one, I’d say we should probably stay on their good side…

  • 11 May 2016 2:27 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)
    Are You An Innovator?
    By Peter Pelland

    We are in an election cycle here in the United States, and the parade of candidates is a reminder that both the political and the business worlds consist of innovators and those who try to “play it safe” by simply meeting expectations. In both worlds, there is an eventual process of “weeding out” those who fail to impress their respective consumers. Some succeed by telling people what they want to hear or building products that are in constant demand, but others succeed by capitalizing upon an untapped demand for new ways of thinking and new products.

    We are all familiar with the most highly innovative companies in the business world. They stand out from the crowd and dominate their market shares, not because they mimic competitors and existing products or services, but because they have a sense for the next best thing that consumers will eagerly embrace. These innovators have always been in our midst. A century ago, they were typically individuals like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, whereas today they are more likely companies like Apple, Google, Toyota, and Procter & Gamble – with extensive research and development departments and a determination to introduce new products that extend an already iconic branding and offer the promise of a uniquely superior consumer experience.


    The ability to think outside the box is not limited to multinational corporations with billion dollar research and development budgets. Innovation can still originate from modern-day equivalents of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford (or Abraham Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt), even though the challenges to the individual innovator are today probably greater than ever. Some of the most highly successful innovators of the last generation were not born with silver spoons in their mouths but with an ability to see things outside of the conventional norms. These include the “rags to riches” stories of billionaires such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Larry Ellison.

    Campground owners can meet innovative challenges just like any other business entrepreneur. Often overshadowed by innovations in camping equipment – most notably modern recreational vehicle and tent designs – campgrounds have opportunities to distinguish themselves in their sites, rentals, amenities, recreational programs, customer service, and in technological areas ranging from online reservations to wi-fi. Right now, one innovative rage seems to be glamping, with rentals of extremely well-appointed cottages, yurts or even treehouses.

    There are parks that are known for searching out that next innovation that will give them a competitive edge. These are the types of parks that attend trade events like the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions) Expo, in Orlando each year. Their campers return year after year, knowing that they can look forward to something new and exciting. On the other hand, there are park owners who think they should be successful simply because they have an employee who dresses up in an ill-fitting Santa costume for a weekend event every July.

    Clearly, there is a market for conventional campgrounds that fail to innovate. Some people are not looking for shiny objects, but just want to get away for a quiet weekend of relaxation in a natural environment. The only problem is that this market represents an ever-shrinking sliver of an age-old pie.

    As a campground owner, you need to decide whether you want to be satisfied with the income you will earn by providing your guests with a somewhat stagnant but predictable experience, or whether you are ready to embrace the potential risks of innovation. Not every innovation is successful, and repeated failure is often part of the process. One way of minimizing the risk is to closely follow the leaders rather than blazing trails yourself, but you must be prepared to recognize successful ideas and to embrace them quickly.

    Somebody operated the first campground to offer its guests wi-fi, another was the first with 50-amp electric pedestals, another was the first campground to replace its metal pipe playground with a modern playscape, and yet another recognized the declining popularity (and the associated maintenance costs) of tennis courts, and how the square footage that they occupied might be more profitably utilized. The challenge is to avoid being the last person to get onboard, particularly if you are introducing the latest fad rather than an innovation that capitalizes upon a long-term trend.

    Part of the beauty of innovation is that it does not always involve a significant financial investment. Ideas are priceless. Although transforming ideas into realities might usually involve facilities and infrastructure, innovative thinking can also involve low-cost or self-sustaining programs such as your park’s calendar of events. When somebody looks at your calendar of activities and is interested in camping on the weekend of August 12-14, does what they read generate excitement and lead to an immediate online reservation, or does it simply lead them to click through to another park – probably your competitor down the highway?

    It is time to think about what you will do next to bring a new wave of campers to your park. What really impressed you on that last cruise or your last visit to a major resort or theme park? Then think about how that great idea could be customized for your campground. Better yet, be a true trailblazer and be the first to come up with your own original ideas that your campers will immediately embrace and that your competitors will later attempt to emulate.

    This post was written by Peter Pelland


  • 10 May 2016 12:50 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    Drew Industries Sees Positive RV Industry Trends

    May 10, 2016 by Justin Leighty

    Drew Industries Inc.’s CEO Jason Lippert discussed some of the high-level trends driving the company’s sales and earnings growth.  “It’s an exciting time in the RV business...” Lippert said. "It’s a great time to celebrate as the RV industry continues to gain momentum.  We credit this continued industry growth to significant new product choices and price points as well as the great advertising of the lifestyle by the industry. Most notably, a younger demographic seems to favor the RV lifestyle as many companies and studies have recently pointed out,” he continued. “There has been a lot of talk and confirmation that younger buyers, specifically Millennials, are finding the RV lifestyle to be an attractive choice.”

    The growth of entry-level travel trailers, Lippert suggested “is a long-term positive from the standpoint that we’re definitely bringing more people into the lifestyle and it will pay off down the road.” Growth was led by a strong performance in the RV industry.

  • 10 May 2016 12:26 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge KOA Celebrates 50 Years

    Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge KOA celebrates 50 years

    PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — LaVerne and Gladys Kelch loved little more than a good fishing trip to Douglas Lake. So much so in fact, that they’d travel there fairly often from their home in Wisconsin. In 1964, after meeting Kampgrounds of America founder Dave Drum during a road trip, which took them and their sons Dick and Rick through Billings, Montana, they made a decision that would forever change the lives of future generations.

    “They started looking for property here (in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) with the idea of starting a campground,” says Annie, the Kelch’s daughter-in-law. “They bought the original property in August of 1965, and the first camper night was in June of 1966.”

    Annie worked at the campground while she and Dick were dating; the couple married in 1969. They eventually took over managing the property, raising son Eric and daughter Heather on the campground.

    “I had new friends all the time and returning friends each year,” says Eric as he recalls his childhood. “There was always someone to play with. I’d have my local school friends over here because we had a pool and playground and summer activities—and of course we had the river to play in. When we got old enough to drive a golf cart, we started working here.”

    After Dick passed away in 1997, Annie and Eric managed the campground while Heather attended college in Knoxville. Later, Eric managed his own real estate development company and eventually went to work for the KOA corporate office, while Heather and Annie worked together. Eric and his wife Leslie returned to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA Holiday in 2015.

    The first KOA east of the Mississippi, the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA Holiday has certainly changed over the years. The original 10 acres has expanded over time and now includes spacious patio sites for even the largest big rigs, Deluxe Cabins with private bathrooms and kitchenettes, newly remodeled Camping Cabins and a large tent camping area. The Kelch family has worked hard to add the amenities campers want most, including not only RV storage, but also a Jumping Pillow, outdoor movie theater, a gem mining feature, meeting rooms and, most recently, Sweet Momma’s Café, named in honor of Annie.

    To celebrate the family’s 50 years of KOA campground ownership and to thank the local community for their support over the last five decades, the Kelches are hosting an open house on May 20 from 4 – 8 p.m. Live music, food and special events are planned. Those camping at the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA Holiday that weekend will also receive a special treat—accommodation prices have been rolled back to 1966 prices.

    “Mom was able to find some of the rate cards from back then, and it cost $3 a carload to camp with us,” Eric says. “So we decided that for one night (May 21) we will do the same thing. It’s just $3 to camp with us that night, whether you’re in an RV or staying in one of our cabins.”

    Live bluegrass music, games and refreshments will be available that evening as well.

    Now open year-round, the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA Holiday is located at 3122 Veterans Boulevard in Pigeon Forge.

    Source: KOA Press Release

  • 28 Apr 2016 12:36 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    CONTACT: Shannon Brower

    608.848.8781

    shannon@crs4rec.com

    Thanks to Commercial Recreation Specialists, California’s Wake Island
    Leads A New Generation of Water-Based Family Entertainment Centers

    Verona, Wis., (April, 2016) –When Noel Carter, owner of Wake Island near Sacramento, Calif. — the largest watersports park on the West Coast — realized he got what he paid for with the installation of substandard giant inflatables from a generic manufacturer in China, he needed to do something fast. So he turned to Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS).

    The professionals at CRS in Verona, Wis., helped transform Wake Island into a more thrilling, more colorful and more memorable experience. More than 50 giant blue and green structures — slides, towers, wiggle bridges, ramps, a trampoline, a water totter, balance beams, tunnels, monkey bars, hurdles, domes, swings and more — form modular obstacle courses on the water and make for challenging floating fun, safe and exciting play, and what Carter calls a “visually intense” experience. “With the Sports Park, a picture tells a thousand words,” Carter says. “This thing advertises itself.”

    What makes Wake Island even more special is that it’s among the first of its kind in the United States to embrace the emerging trend of Water-Based Family Entertainment Centers™, or WBEFC™.  The WBFEC market will only get bigger, according to Ron Romens, president of CRS, which is pioneering the concept. Customized for each location and budget, a WBFEC can turn any location — a lake, waterfront, marina or even parcel of unused land— into a revenue-generating attraction. “This is definitely a trend,” Romens says. “People don’t forget this type of recreation, which encourages active play, social interaction and exciting but safe experiences. There’s nothing else like it in the marketplace.”

    CRS worked with Carter to understand his business goals and created a tailored plan that met his needs. The plan featured a strategy focused on creating easy entry and exits, varying degrees of challenge and integrating differing rotations of play to encourage repeat visits. Wake Island’s Sports Park was built for success using a high degree of engineering and technical know-how to create a self-directed experience that keeps guests coming back for more.

    Through a consultative approach and providing expert input every step of the way, CRS has helped customers like Carter design facilities to promote business growth. With knowledge and advice for developing and improving hours of operation, throughput, usage fees, waiver information and check-in processes, CRS offers solutions beyond the equipment.

    “We are a solutions provider,” Romens says. “Our primary objective is to help make our customers’ businesses wildly successful. We preserve what they have already created by proposing solutions to make operations more efficient and fresher, while increasing per capita revenues and minimizing owner risk, liability, downtime and staffing needs. When we are successful helping our customers be successful, we have delivered value.” Carter is certainly a believer.

    “You’ve got a professional with you from the beginning,” he says about the personalized, service-oriented experience of working with CRS. “It’s that kind of partnership that is extremely important in this type of business. You learn so much so fast. And while it might cost you more, you will save a lot in the end.”  Robert Cirjak, Wibit’s Germany-based CEO, says that many of his customers around the world have replaced what he calls substandard, unsafe and noncompliant equipment with Wibit products. “We have customers in 70 countries,” he says. “We receive a lot of calls from people in the United States saying, ‘We made the wrong decision.’ Our relationship with CRS benefits everyone.”

    “You can go to Wal-Mart and buy a toy that’s manufactured in China, and the instructions are very minimal and the quality might be questionable,” Carter says, explaining his experience with the first set of inflatables made in China that he installed in early 2015 and removed that September. “It was definitely a trial and error process.”

    With  the confusion created by imitation products from manufacturers in China and other countries, CRS is dedicated to educating the U.S. market by providing comprehensive instruction and training for facility owners who want to operate best-in-class aquatics sports parks.

    Since Wake Island’s initial upgrade, CRS has added more equipment to expand the facility’s evolving waterplay environment. Romens now points to Wake Island as an example of the right way to create and market water-based family entertainment centers that deliver unique guest experiences and maximize ROI. “Wake Island is a leader in this emerging category, and we’re proud to be part of it,” Romens says. “There a huge added value in the ease of the buying process and sharing of knowledge when you’re working with people who speak your language and operate in the same country as you do,” Carter says. “That kind of support is huge for new customers entering the market. I’d recommend CRS and the value they provide, because you need to do things right.”

      

    About Commercial Recreation Specialists

    CRS is headquartered in Verona, Wis., with representatives in New Jersey and Minnesota. It serves customers throughout the United States and the Caribbean. With over 40 years of combined industry experience, CRS not only supplies the highest quality equipment, it also offers design, planning, installation and operations services. It provides careful analysis of each client’s facility and business goals in order to achieve the best recreation solution possible. CRS delivers unparalleled industry knowledge and proven success in the commercial recreation market with clients including municipalities, schools, YMCAs, athletic facilities, sports venues, amusement parks, family entertainment centers, campgrounds, resorts, summer camps, zoos and other recreation venues.


  • 22 Mar 2016 10:20 AM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    Meadville KOA To Host Vintage RV Rally in Northwestern PA

    MEADVILLE, PA (March 17, 2016) - The Meadville KOA Campground will host a Vintage RV Rally and Car Show this summer on June 3-4 at the campground, located at 25164 State Route 27 in Meadville. All campers with restored, vintage recreational vehicles (pre-1980) are invited to attend.  “This is the first rally of this type that we’ve hosted at our campground,” said Meadville KOA owner Tim Chilson. “We plan to make this an annual event.”  Chilson said vintage RV owners that also have a vintage tow vehicle are invited to enter the tow vehicle in the Car Show portion of the event that same day. Trophies will be awarded. The Car Show includes awards for First Place and Second Place in several categories, along with an award for Best Engine Bay and Best Sound System.

    For more information on the Vintage RV Rally, including discounts on camping, go to www.meadvillekoa.com/car-show-and-vintage-rv-rally/.

    Meadville KOA Campground has a full recreation schedule each season from early May through mid-October each season.  Owners Robyn and Tim Chilson have owned and operated Meadville KOA Campground since October 1999.  They joined Kampgrounds of America (KOA) in 2011.  Meadville KOA Campground is a Founder’s and President’s Award-Winning KOA Campground.  You can reach Robyn at 814-789-3251 for more information.


  • 18 Mar 2016 1:50 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release

    SEPI MARKETING RELEASES MRV CONNECT, A SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK FOR RV TRAVELERS

    MRV Connect will enable RV Travelers to Share and Catalog Road Life

    Plantation, FL - (March 15, 2016) SEPI Marketing announces the release of MRV Connect in Beta. The Beta site is configured as a form of social media for RV Travelers which enables their users to catalog their journey, share content within their network and view their friends travels and experiences via reviews.

    SEPI Marketing, a promoter of outdoor recreation, owns Southeast Publications, MobileRVing.com and their mobile app,  MobileRVing 2.0. MRV Connect is expected to expand SEPI Marketing’s viewership which will also increase their digital advertising real estate and benefits to RV Resorts and Campgrounds that partner with Southeast Publications. Some of these benefits include enabling their Preferred Properties to be served up to user’s newsfeeds based on their current location.

    MRV Connect will also be serving up local business deals to users based on their current check-in, an added benefit for the over 17,000 advertisers Southeast Publications acquires every year. Brian McGuinn, Director of Business Development states, “Right now our advertisers, and partner resorts, are realizing the power our media brings. We have numerous reports from both existing and new customers that new guests are either finding their resort through our Mobile App or the MobileRVing.com website. Our advertisers are not only buying our print at a record rate, but now they are buying our digital space which is growing in demand.”

    SEPI Marketing intends to receive feedback from their users but MRV Connect is still undergoing rigorous testing internally during the Beta phase. When asked if he feels MRV Connect is ready, CEO of SEPI Marketing Wally Warrick states, “Technology is going to be changing at a much faster clip, our goal as an organization is to remain on top of it, refine our internal processes so that we may harness its full potential. So, if you are asking me if I think its 100%, I would be complacent if I said yes. Our platforms will constantly improve, our projects will never be fully done and new platforms are in fact being developed as we speak.”

    Carlene Morris, Vice President of SEPI Marketing states, “Really our goal is not to force content down people’s throats. We want our platforms to be something that is not only known, but produces value to users and promotes an industry that I’ve loved for over 3 decades.” SEPI Marketing is no stranger to criticisms and according to statements within the company, they are actually very thankful for honest feedback. They make it a point to have a forms within all of their platforms so that their users can have a voice. Carlene further states, “When it came to MobileRVing.com, we had loads of criticisms but it was that type of feedback that made us where we are now.”

    SEPI Marketing plans to continue visiting consumer RV Shows to promote their MobileRVing community and partner publications.  They will be releasing a full campaign to promote MRV Connect once the platform has moved out of its beta phase.

    ABOUT SOUTHEAST PUBLICATIONS

    Since 1986, Southeast Publications, a division of SEPI Marketing, has been the leader in the guest guide industry, servicing approximately 1,491 accounts in 2015 and over 17,000 small businesses. Southeast Publications has the Largest Sales force which traverse throughout the United States and Canada. Beyond providing superior printed materials, Southeast Publications has expanded into comprehensive digital offerings such as www.MobileRVing.com, now with over 90,000 visitors monthly.  Some other products produced by Southeast Publications include Web Design, SEO, Commercial Print, Promotional Products, and Graphic Design work. For more information about Southeast Publications, contact Brian McGuinn, Business Development Director, at Southeast Publications at (800) 832-3292 or via email at Brian@southeastpublications.com.


  • 07 Mar 2016 12:32 PM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    Listen to Your Customers

    by Peter Pelland


    I thought it would be useful to read through random reviews of campgrounds on the TripAdvisor website in order to determine whether there were some common complaints that savvy park operators might need to address. On TripAdvisor, we are generally dealing with that all-important market of first-time campers – precisely the people who are needed to grow the industry’s markets. We all know the old adage about first impressions being lasting impressions, and an experience that fails to live up to expectations could not only ensure that a first-time guest will not return to your park; you could very well sour that first-time camper on the entire camping experience, rather than turning him into the next lifetime camper.

    I randomly chose campgrounds in four regions of the country and read through reviews. In the instance of one park, I found that every recent 5-star review was followed up with a management response, thanking the reviewer for taking the time to write the review; however, there was not a management response for even a single recent review that rated the campground as anything less than outstanding. The management of this campground is totally missing the point in its failure to address legitimate concerns or even to acknowledge those somewhat less-than-happy campers. Ironically, those unaddressed reviews are consistently flagged as “helpful” by fellow TripAdvisor users. In other words, these unaddressed complaints are being read by other potential guests who are thanking the reviewers for saving them from making the mistake of vacationing at the same park.

    The most common complaints fell into 6 categories:

    1. Extra fees. People who have customarily stayed in hotels or conventional resorts are not accustomed to paying excessive add-on fees or for paying to take a shower. I frequently encountered the term “nickeled and dimed”, and that is not good. Reviewers complained about excessive fees for everything from arts and crafts sessions to the rental of recreational equipment, but the single biggest complaint was with any park that used metered showers. One reviewer wrote, “You have to pay for your shower, and the first three minutes are cold.”
    2. Indifference on the part of staff or management. Some of the specific complaints a bad attitude when staff members visited campsites, or security staff members who turned a blind eye away from issues that needed to be addressed. There were many complaints about rude employees (bad enough), but the people who referenced rude owners are really raising red flags. One reviewer documented about requesting a credit (not a refund) due to a medical emergency, and how the park owner insultingly demanded a note from her doctor! Another wrote, “The gate guards are not that friendly – actually they are aggressive and rude – and are easily annoyed.” That surly gate guard is the first person encountered upon arrival and can set the tone for the entire camping experience.
    3. Small sites that are not big rig friendly. Unless camping in a group, campers generally do not want to feel like they are on top of the adjoining sites. If they are camping in a big rig, they want to be able to get into and out of their site easily and without risk of damage to their investment. In the short term, this may mean carefully assigning sites to the camping equipment; in the long term, this may mean re-engineering smaller adjoining sites into larger single sites.
    4. Dirty, inadequately or infrequently cleaned restrooms. There are simply no excuses here. If it is a busy weekend, your cleaning staff may need to be cleaning your restrooms on a continuous rotation throughout the day. If you are short-staffed, hire people. The photo that I am showing below is one of eight that was included in an actual review, documenting a lack of bathroom cleaning – both short-term and long-term – at one particular park. Additional photos attached to the review show fecal matter in front of toilets, dirty floors, empty paper towel dispensers, and stained shower stalls.
    5. Lack of maintenance in rentals. Be careful about overselling you’re amenities. It is probably a mistake to market aging park models as “luxury cottages”, particularly if their amenities are inconsistent with what you advertise. If a furnished park model is designed to sleep 6 people, the kitchen utensils should not be limited to 3 forks, 2 glasses and 4 chipped plates (as mentioned in one actual review). There should be a printed inventory of furnishings (that are checked and replenished by housekeeping between rentals) that will allow guests to know exactly what they should expect to find in the unit.
    6. Lax enforcement of rules. Yes, we all know that rules are a double-edged sword where some people are always going to be unhappy; however, the guests who really count are the ones who expect quiet, not those who are creating a nuisance. Within this category of complaints, the biggest issues involved unattended dogs being allowed to bark, and quiet hours that were not consistently and politely enforced.

    All in all, the people who are addressing these concerns are far from being unreasonable. If you were on a vacation – perhaps a cruise or a trip to a vacation resort – would you find these shortcomings acceptable? Of course not! Treat your guests with respect, meet their expectations, and your business will grow and prosper.


  • 09 Feb 2016 11:02 AM | KOA Owners Association (Administrator)

    RV Essentials


    KOA Owners: help your customer keep their RV stocked with basic supplies, nonperishable foods, linens and clothes, so they will be ready to go anytime, anywhere. Let them know:  'RVs give you the freedom to be spontaneous!'

    Everyone has favorites and must-haves they can't survive without, but here's a list of some stock items RVers should keep on board at all times:

       Adapters for 30 amp and 50 amp outlets

       Batteries

       Binoculars

       Bottle/can opener

       Camera and memory cards

       Dishes/cooking utensils

       Firewood

       First-aid supplies

       Flashlights, lanterns

       Folding chairs

       Games

       Grill and fuel

       Heavy-duty extension cords

       Insect repellent

       Jacket/raincoat

       Maps and GPS

       RV toilet paper

       Matches/lighter

       Nature field guides

       Pillows, blankets, sheets

       Picnic basket

       Plastic bags (large and small)

       Pots and pans

       Road flares

       Rope and bungee cords

       Shovel (small folding type)

       Soap and toiletries

       Sports equipment

       Sunscreen

       Tool kit

       Towels

       Trash bags

       Umbrellas

       Water hose (white potable water type)

    Also remind RVers to consult the weight label on their RV for more information.

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