Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) is in an acquisitive mode, having restructured its executive team in an effort to focus more of its management resources on campground acquisitions to add to its roster of company-owned parks.
The Billings, Mont.-based franchisor is also looking to augment its base of franchised North American parks.
“We are aggressively pursuing acquisitions,” Shane Ott, KOA’s senior vice president of company-operated campgrounds, told RVBusiness. “We’re looking at acquisitions as a long-term strategic growth opportunity for KOA. We want to grow our portfolio, both on the franchise side and on the corporate-owned side.”
Ott wouldn’t provide many details regarding specific areas of the country upon which KOA is focusing its acquisition strategy right now, although he noted there are several important markets that do not currently have KOAs, including Miami, Fla., Sedona, Ariz. and Palm Springs, Calif.
Nearly 500 campgrounds currently are affiliated with the privately held company – most of them franchises, although 18 are company owned.
While KOA typically looks to convert existing campgrounds to KOA franchises, corporate owned KOAs are also important to the company, Ott stressed, because they help generate additional revenue for the company while providing readily accessible testing locations for new products and services.
“It’s easier to test new things on our own properties,” Ott said. “This also gives us the ability to unveil new programs for our franchisees that we know have been tested.”
KOA, for example, has recently been test marketing consumer interest in campsites with oversized patios and wrought iron furniture as opposed to standard picnic tables. The company has also been testing price points for other products and services, he said.
KOA’s latest acquisition is Spruce Valley Campground in Bar Harbor, Me., a 50-acre, 115-site facility located one mile from an existing company-owned KOA with 200 sites. Ott said the acquisition was needed because of strong demand in the Bar Harbor area.
Seven of KOA’s corporate owned campgrounds are located in Florida, including Siesta Key, Sugarloaf Key, Naples-Marco Island, St. Petersburg, Orlando-Kissimmee, Okeechobee and Ocala. KOA also owns campgrounds in Nashville, Tenn.; Boston-Cape Cod, Mass.; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Niagara Falls, Ont.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Albuquerque, N.M.
The company also has long-term leases for company owned campgrounds at the Reno Hilton in Reno, Nev. and Circus Circus in Las Vegas, Nev.