From dreamers to rising stars, Marc and Starr Peterson’s journey to winning the 2023 KOA Rising Star Award for their Paris Landing/Kentucky Lake KOA campground is one of passion, perseverance, and a relentless commitment to customer service.
The prestigious accolade, awarded at the recent KOA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, recognizes the Petersons’s tireless efforts in transforming their campground into a leading destination that exceeds guest expectations.
Just a year after first exploring campground ownership, the couple took a leap of faith to purchase Paris Landing KOA, turning their love of the outdoors and the KOA brand into a thriving family business through determination, hard work, and an unwavering focus on quality.
In an exclusive interview with Modern Campground, the Petersons shared a detailed account of their initial steps in establishing the campground, the obstacles they overcame to reach their current position, and their aspirations for the campground’s future image.
The Petersons’ Journey into campground ownership was serendipitous; when initially planning a trip to Niagara Falls, they stumbled upon a KOA advertisement that sparked their interest.
Within a year, they transitioned from KOA campers to owners of Paris Landing/Kentucky Lake KOA. Their love for the outdoors and the KOA brand fueled their decision, transforming a casual interest into a passionate endeavor.
“About maybe a month later, we are at Fort Collins KOA in Colorado, at a seminar that they put on a couple of times a year about buying a campground,” Marc Peterson recalled. “And less than a year from when we looked into buying a KOA, we closed on this KOA (Paris Landing) campground.”
However, transitioning from their previous careers, the Petersons faced significant challenges, including balancing family life with the demands of running a campground. Their journey was marked by self-sacrifice, hard work, and a deep-rooted faith, which they credit for their ability to overcome obstacles and achieve success.
“Generally, the biggest challenge was having a family and running a campground… Our girls were three and five, I believe, when we bought the place,” Marc Peterson recalled. “How did we overcome that? Perseverance. And I have to say, with the help of God… Our faith is very important; He gave us the strength.”
The Petersons attribute their success to their commitment to exceptional customer service and continuous improvement. Despite its modest size, Paris Landing/Kentucky Lake KOA stands out due to the personal touch the Petersons bring.
“The campground itself is a beautiful park. It’s not something of grandeur when you compare it to other parks,” remarked Starr Peterson humbly, adding, “It’s a very simple, sweet, little charming park. But it’s about the service we provide on top of that.”
They emphasize direct engagement with guests, prompt problem-solving, and a relentless drive to enhance the campground’s amenities and aesthetics. This hands-on approach and dedication to guest satisfaction played a pivotal role in earning the Rising Star Award.
“Our customer service is absolutely first and foremost as important in our campground… We fix problems when they arise immediately,” said Marc Peterson. “And yes, we do make a lot of effort to keep our park pretty and safe, secure, and fun.”
Meanwhile, recognizing the evolving landscape of camping, the Petersons have embraced technology and a guest-centric approach to meet the needs of modern campers, including Millennials and Generation Z.
“Well, some of the basic strategies are simple: Embrace technology. I never want to be the old guy complaining about what the young guy likes, dislikes how he or she likes to interact,” he added.
From utilizing text messaging services for communication to responding promptly to guest feedback, they ensure a modernized and inclusive camping experience.
“We use our text messaging service to get information out before, during, and after their (guests) stay. That we believe is a huge priority for us,” Marc Peterson said. “Engaging and understanding reviews is a strategy.”
Paris Landing/Kentucky Lake KOA’s commitment to excellence is also reflected in customer reviews on their website. Guests consistently praise the campground for its beautiful setting, friendly service, and a plethora of activities, affirming its status as a top camping destination.
“Marc, Starr and their staff are awesome and their tireless efforts go above and beyond to make sure every camper has a good time and they genuinely care about their campers,” wrote James Gonzales, a camper from Burns, TN, in a review.
“This was my 4th time and definitely not the last,” wrote Michelle Newman, another guest. “WONDERFUL PEOPLE!! We normally take our camper but this time we just rented a deluxe cabin and will definitely do that again… Just all around WONDERFUL!”
Looking ahead, the Petersons plan to expand their offerings with new cabins, enhanced tent experiences, and possibly a splash pad. They adhere to a philosophy of continuous improvement, ensuring that each year brings new features or amenities to enhance the guest experience.
The Paris Landing/Kentucky Lake KOA’s journey from a simple camping interest to a Rising Star Award winner is a story of passion, dedication, and community. The Petersons’ efforts have not only transformed their campground but have also set a benchmark for excellence in the camping industry.
About Paris Landing KOA Holiday
Paris Landing/Kentucky Lake KOA, nestled just off US Route 79 between Memphis and Nashville, offers a serene retreat close to the picturesque Kentucky Lake. This campground is ideal for both short stays and extended vacations, providing easy access to a range of outdoor activities.
Guests can choose from various accommodation options, including RV Sites, Tent Sites, and Cabins, with future plans all year round. The RV sites are particularly accommodating, featuring full hookups (water, electric, and sewer) and pull-through access for rigs up to 85 feet long.
Meanwhile, the campground is equipped with a range of amenities to enhance the camping experience. These include 50 Max Amp power, Wi-Fi, cable TV, a seasonal pool open from May 21st to September 17th, a snack bar, propane services, mini-golf, and a pavilion.
Campers can indulge in leisure activities such as mini golf or disc golf, cool off in the swimming pool, or engage in unique experiences like panning for treasure in the gem mine. For fishing enthusiasts, the area is a paradise, offering ample opportunities for a catch.