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.

Coming Up In The April Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Guest Service: Customer Service is a Key Business Differentiator
In today's hyper-competitive, hyper-connected global marketplace, customer experience has assumed a major role as a key business differentiator. There is a growing understanding that competition based on products or price alone is no longer a viable strategy. Since feature or function advantages can be quickly duplicated and/or enhanced, product innovation is no longer the differentiator it once was. And competition based on price impairs profitability. On the other hand, research indicates that 86 percent of consumers said they would be willing to pay more for a better customer experience. To protect both market share and margins, hotel companies must provide customers with consistent, compelling experiences - before, during, and after their purchases - across all major channels. There are many things organizations can do to deliver a superior customer experience. Management must align everything a company does with the customer service experience in mind. They must assign high value to anticipation of customers' real needs and desires, and they must incentivize and reward personal initiative in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. They must respond quickly to customer requests. They must ensure that customer interactions are highly personalized, and they must deliver the right information to the right place at the right time. And perhaps most importantly, upper management must create a culture where customer service is valued and esteemed, taught and rewarded. Customer experience leaders who can drive this kind of cultural change will radically affect their companies? competitive position and business performance. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.