One of the biggest surprises we had last year in our travels was with KOA – Kampgrounds of America. On our trip west and then on other meanderings over the season, we had the opportunity of staying at about a dozen KOA campgrounds across the U.S.
They were all good experiences, to be sure, but we couldn't help but notice some big differences between the properties.
And so today, when we see that KOA has re-branded itself by deciding to classify each of their more than 400 properties according to the level of service, the amenities and the facilities itself, we have to nod in agreement. Good idea, KOA!
KOA Chairman Jim Rogers made the announcement in a news release to rvdailyreport and said re-branding will direct the right marketing messaging to the right guests.
Here's how the re-branding works.
- KOA Journey campgrounds are for on-the-move campers, those looking mostly for an overnight stop, located close to major interstates and highways. As much as 20 percent of all KOA branded campgrounds will be in this category.
- KOA Holiday campgrounds fir in as more of a base camp experience, a place to stay for several days, a weekend or as a local base at the end of the day as the guests explore local attractions. These will comprise maybe 75%. of all KOA campgrounds.
- KOA Resorts are the top of the line facility, making up around 5% of all campgrounds. These offer lots of amenities and top-rate facilities, a five star camping experience and a place where guests can hang out all day, relaxing and engaging in recreational activities.
“This is not a good, better, best way of looking at our campgrounds,” said KOA President Hittmeier in the rvdailyreport news release.”It is designed to help guests better understand what they can expect from the facilities at which they chose to stay.”
This makes a lot of sense to me. In our travels this past season, we experienced all three. My favorite KOA by far was the Badlands/White River KOA in Interior, SD, which we used as a base camp for two days while we explored the Badlands National Park just down the road. It had trees, which in the Badlands is a very big deal. They had great breakfasts and barbeque dinners and there were all sorts of dirt roads nearby that let me do some fun mountainbiking in full view of the breathtaking tabletop buttes and craggy bluffs. A large swimming pool was particularly welcome after hot, dusty days spent tramping in the Badlands
We also really enjoyed staying at the flagship KOA in Billings, MT, located right on the banks of the Yellowstone River. This was the site of the very first KOA and it offered all sorts of games and activities and some very deluxe, oversized patio campsites.There was a basketball course, min0 golf, two large playgrounds and, of course, an outdoor heated pool and hot tub.
But in all the KOAs we visited, there was a consistency of service that we really appreciated, especially after a long day on the road. We were always escorted to our spot and offered help in backing in or setting up. The restrooms and showers at every KOA we stayed at were sparking clean, no matter what time of the day or night we used them. There was usually a store or facilities where we could restock on supplies or find food and refreshment.
That reliability of excellence won us over. Knowing what to expect when you book a campground, and never being disappointed, is a great incentive to keep me coming back. The re-branding initiative will make booking a KOA campsite even more reliable.