Business & Finance

KOA Campground Staff to Receive Service Training

BILLINGS, MT / HORSHAM, PA, August 24, 2006. For decades, experts in the hospitality business thought all it took to bring customers back to their doors again and again was a nice facility in a good location.

That mindset changed at Kampgrounds of America two years ago, when camper research found that the vast majority of campers returned to their favorite KOAs primarily due to the great service they received from the staff and owners at each KOA campground.

"It became very clear to us that the best way for us to create loyal KOA campers was to ensure that the staff at the campground was trained to provide a great experience for the camper, each and every time," said Jim Rogers, President and CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc.

To make that happen, KOA partnered with LRA Worldwide, Inc., of Horsham, Pennsylvania, to create KOA's new "Making It G R E A T" Program.

"KOA had already established its 'Great People. Great Camping.' branding message with its franchise owners and campers, so developing a program that franchise owners could use to train their staffs was a natural next step," said Constance Bille, M.Ed., Director of LRA's Organizational Development and Training practice. "KOA has embraced the opportunity to create a service culture to support the KOA brand and really stand out from the crowd within the camping industry."

KOA and LRA designed the new training program in response to guest surveys that indicated that a positive, engaging experience with a campground's staff led campers to seek out other KOA campgrounds during their travels. The new training includes specialized training materials, guides, videos and workbooks written to ensure all staff members at the more than 450 KOA locations in North America receive the same high-quality customer service training.

"This is really the first time this level of training has been attempted in the campground industry," Rogers said. "And it dovetails nicely with our effort of the past two years to raise our brand awareness among campers by having all staff members wear our bright yellow KOA shirts while working on the campground and interacting with guests. As the training becomes an ingrained part of the KOA service culture and brand, its impact will grow exponentially each year."

"KOA's research, coupled with the "Making It G R E A T" program, will give KOA franchise owners the opportunity to better understand how to drive the great guest experience that KOA campers expect from the folks in the yellow shirts," Rogers said.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: The Value of Sustainability
The hotel industry continues to make remarkable progress in implementing sustainability policies and procedures in their properties throughout the world. As a result, they continue to reap the benefits of increased profitability, enhanced guest experiences, and improved community relations. In addition, as industry standards are codified and adopted worldwide, hotels can now compare how their operations measure up against their competitors in terms of sustainable practices and accomplishments. This capacity to publicly compare and contrast is spurring competition and driving innovation as hotels do not wish to be left behind in this area. Water management and conservation is still a primary issue as population growth, urbanization, pollution and wasteful consumption patterns place increasing demands on freshwater supply. Water recycling; installing low-flow fixtures; using digital sensors to control water usage; and even harvesting rainwater are just a few things that some hotels are doing to preserve this precious resource. Waste management is another major concern. Through policies of reduce, reuse and recycle, some hotels are implementing “zero-waste” programs with the goal of substantially reducing their landfill waste which produces carbon dioxide and methane gases. Other hotels have established comprehensive training programs that reinforce the value of sustainability. There is employee engagement through posters and quizzes, and even contests are held to increase innovation, sensitivity and environmental awareness. Some hotels are also monitoring a guest’s energy usage and rewarding those who consumed less energy with gifts and incentives. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating eco-friendly practices into their operations and how they and the environment are benefiting from them.