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The Growth Mindset: How KOA Thrives in the Competitive Outdoor Hospitality Industry

In a recent groundbreaking report, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the 2021 Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, which highlighted the outdoor recreation industry’s impact on the U.S. economy, revealing the sector produced $862 billion in gross economic output in 2021.

The success of the sector is a win for businesses within the industry, including private campgrounds. 

For outdoor hospitality giant Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA), understanding the economy and how it impacts individuals and the brand are crucial to understanding the competitive landscape.

But aside from this major growth in the outdoor recreation segment, how does an outdoor hospitality brand thrive in this day and age of an ever-growing and changing competitive industry?

During the KOA Convention & Expo in Florida, Whitney Scott, chief marketing officer of KOA, highlighted that in order to understand today’s competition, it is vital to learn what happened in the past.

Over the last two years, the industry has seen significant growth. Scott highlighted KOA’s North American Camping report revealing that 94 million households consider themselves active camping households. This is a big leap from the 2019 data, with an estimated 7 million camper households in the U.S.

Out of the 94 million camping households, 56 million said they camped at least once last year.

The 2022 report also showed that in the last two years, 20 million households have started camping for the very first time. 

The growth mindset approach 

With only 1.2 million sites available for the 56 million households that camped at least once last year, Scott said the gap is clear.

“There’s a lot of activity going on, but even more people have noticed that our industry is underserved and under-infrastructured,” she said.

In order to thrive in a competitive landscape, Scott talked about the growth mindset approach. She said that it is more important to focus more on the customer and less on the competition.

“As a marketer, I truly believe that if we focus on the customer and less on the competition, we will win. It’s important to understand the competition but not to focus on it,” Scott added. 

Scott also discussed various startup mentalities that campground owners could adopt.

“There are five startup mentalities to competition that I want us all to start taking into practice. Number one [is] specialization. Without competition, there wouldn’t be an incentive for specialization,” Scott said. 

Scott told campground owners that rivalry is what challenges people to find their niche areas and enhance their expertise.

One great example Scott gave is that just because a campground down the road built a $5 million water park doesn’t mean they should also have a waterpark. She said that it’s more important to understand the market, build the gaps, specialize who to service more, create a relationship with the customer, and build a lifetime value.

Scott ended her discussion by putting an emphasis that each KOA campground is unique but collectively better together.


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: The Growth Mindset: How KOA Thrives in the Competitive Outdoor Hospitality Industry! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/florida/the-growth-mindset-how-koa-thrives-in-the-competitive-outdoor-hospitality-industry/