Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) will embark on a program to strengthen its brand name by creating an electronic network to better manage its 500 company-owned and franchised campgrounds.

KOA also will experiment with more upscale facilities, starting with a new showpiece park in Florida.

President and CEO Jim Rogers said KOA intends to replace existing facilities near Orlando, Fla., and in Las Vegas, Nev., with more upscale venues. KOA will build a 100-site campground in Kissimmee, Fla., that will feature high-end amenities, he said.

Meanwhile, KOA will close its company-owned facility in Las Vegas, which will be replaced by a franchise operation associated with Silverton Hotel, Casino and RV Park. The Silverton property includes a 300-room hotel and 460-unit RV park. It will become a KOA franchise effective Jan. 1, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Rogers and other KOA executives emphasized, during the company’s International Convention in San Antonio last month, that KOA needs to strengthen its brand equity with uniformity in presentation and service.

“Brand standards must apply, not only to restroom cleanliness, but to logo use, promotion rules, phone service and other core values,” Rogers said. “Each of us has the responsibility to meet, if not exceed, our brand standards, and we all have to assume responsibility to see that our brand standards are being met everywhere. Our brand promises cannot be met at one KOA and forgotten or ignored at another.”

Rogers told owners they must provide uniform service to all campers.

“If we are going to further enhance KOA’s hospitality reputation, we cannot be selective in the service that we provide,” he said.

A new agreement with MCI will provide KOA campgrounds with an inexpensive link to KOA KampSight, a new centralized campground management system that tracks campers and campground use, Rogers said.

“We will have the dependable connection that campgrounds demand to provide a front-desk management system,” he said.

At the same time, the system will gather information on individual campers to allow focused direct marketing. “We will have the ability to call up data on our customers almost instantaneously,” he said.

“At a time when many companies are pulling back on their marketing, we are not,” said Ken Stellmacher, vice president-marketing. “Our market focus is clear and unwavering. We have a long-term obligation to continue building a durable brand.”