The 2023 KOA Convention‘s IdeaXchange session illuminated the significant impact of local public relations (PR) in driving campground reservations.
Speaking at the convention, Diane Eichler, senior vice president of Marketing at KOA, emphasized the underutilization yet high efficacy of local PR in the campground sector.
Eichler outlined the journey of public relations in the marketing funnel, placing it at the top, and creating initial awareness.
She provided a relatable example where a family discovers a campground through a broadcast segment, leading them to research and booking; eventually becoming loyal patrons, thus highlighting PR’s role in the customer acquisition and retention lifecycle.
“They’re going to Google your campground to see all the amazing reviews that you have on your campground and the ones that you have, I’m sure, responded to,” Eichler explained. “They’re looking at your campground, they’re considering it.”
The VP of Marketing provided data supporting the effectiveness of PR strategies, where statistics indicated that 89% of new campers and 71% of experienced KOA campers were influenced by news stories or earned media in their decision-making process.
Meanwhile, the session stressed the importance of creating newsworthy content to attract media attention. Eichler suggested focusing on elements like grand openings, new amenities, milestone anniversaries, unique events, and community initiatives.
She emphasized that the media gravitates towards stories with a strong community angle, further supporting the business goals of campgrounds. “Oftentimes, that is the single thing that will distinguish your story from running in the media versus somebody else’s.”
Eichler highlighted an example where a campground named one of the nation’s best pumpkin patches, garnered significant media attention, including 43,000 impressions from a single article and a substantial increase in website traffic and reservations.
“They did (distribute) it to their local media. It got featured in the Bradingston Times, it also got syndicated, and it got picked up at six additional sites, including Southeastern, ESPN,” she elaborated. “This one piece of media, this one article, got 43,000 impressions.”
The session also offered practical advice on how to leverage KOA’s marketing resources for effective PR. Campground owners were encouraged to use KOA’s PR team to create press releases and develop local media lists to maximize coverage.
In closing, Eichler called upon the campground owners to identify and share compelling stories from their locations, using KOA’s resources to amplify their reach and impact.
The emphasis was on harnessing local PR not only as a tool for positive community impact but also as a strategic approach to driving business growth.
The KOA IdeaXchange 2023 session highlighted local PR’s potential in transforming campground registration rates.
This approach fosters a positive community image and also significantly contributes to the business’s bottom line, marking it as a key strategy in the campground industry’s marketing arms.