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The second annual “KOA Come Camp With Us Day,” a May 13 promotional event through which free camping nights were offered at 357 Kampgrounds of America Inc. parks in the U.S. and Canada, posted an appreciable increase in park participation from the first event in 2004 during which 333 campgrounds participated.
“It’s an excellent way for us to promote camping and introduce campers to the KOA way of camping,” said Ken Stellmacher, vice president of marketing for Billings, Mont.-based Kampgrounds of America Inc. “And our owners are delivering on the experience, and, hopefully, that will translate into other stays down the road. In addition, it forces them to get ready two weeks earlier for the season. In fact, for many of our campgrounds, this has become one of the top weekends in the year.”
KOA this year gave away 14,252 free Friday reservations, according to Director of Communications Mike Gast, nearly double the number of free nights granted last year. The 2004 free camping event gave away 7,500 free nights.
Those 14,252 families stayed over an additional 15,252 paid nights (either the prior Thursday or the following Saturday and/or Sunday), Gast said. This equates to nearly $500,000 in additional campground revenues in a single May weekend, which would typically be rather slow.
“Our per-campground average for the program this year was 40 camping families per campground on Friday, May 13,” he said. “We had 26 last year.”
The event is also used as a fundraiser for KOA Care Camps for cancer-stricken children, the official charity of the KOA Owner’s Association. Last year, KOA raised about $29,000 for the charity. This year, the company expects to top $50,000 when all collections are in.