Revenues for Leisure Systems Inc., franchisor of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, were up 13% in 2006 and camper nights grew by 8% in the U.S. and dipped slightly in Canada, Rob Schutter, president and CEO of Milford, Ohio-based LSI told a record number of attendees at the company’s Annual Symposium.
The symposium Nov. 17-10 at the Embassy Suites and Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Ky., attracted 66 of LSI’s 70 franchisees.
The Jellystone Park system is the second largest franchised campground operation in the U.S., with camp-resorts in 24 states and three Canadian provinces. Twenty-two of them open year-round.
Midwest and southern franchisees performed well, said Schutter, while the western parks did better than expected. On the other hand, there was some softness in the Northeast, while the Canadian market showed mixed results.
LSI added three new franchisees in 2006 and looks to add two new parks, in Pelahatchie, Miss., and Wytheville, Va., both of which are under construction. “Overall, we would like to focus on adding more locations in the South, West and central Canada,” said Dean H. Crawford, senior vice president. “In five years, we would like to be at 85 locations.”
LSI conducted seminars at the four-day symposium and hosted more than 70 vendors during the trade show. Meanwhile, LSI recognizedthe Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Fremont, Ind., as the Camp Resort of the Year. The park is owned and operated by the Barry and Corcimiglia families.
Among the other award recipients:
Franchise System Entrepreneur of the Year: Randy and Theresa Isaacson and Ed Van Der Molen, Caledonia, Wis., and Bruce Bryant, Waller, Texas
Franchise System Operators of the Year, Bill and Debbie Briley, Lake Charles, La., and Kelly Jones, Amboy, Ill.
Franchise System Inspection Leader, better known as “The Carroll Award:” The Aljets Family, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Jim Webb Spirit Award: Erv and Marilyn Banes, Frankenmuth, Mich.
Franchise System Maple Leaf Award: The Amadio Family, Niagara Falls, Ont.
Franchise System Facility of the Year: Brent and Kate Gasser, Wisconsin Dells, Wis., and the Aljets family, Sioux Falls, S.D.
To meet Jellystone Park standards, each campground is required to have a minimum of 125 campsites, first-class restroom facilities, a laundry facility and a retail store of 1,000 square feet or more. Plus, each campground is required to offer special amenities like a swimming pool, game room, playground, video theater and a 20-foot by 40-foot covered pavilion.
A majority of the camp-resorts also have s
Snack bars and miniature golf courses are often part of the mix at a majority of the parks, each of which, of course, is still themed with animated Yogi Bear elements, providing instant recognition and consumer credibility.
Jellystone parks are generally larger than the average park and are considered “destination” facilities in that the average length of stay exceeds three days per visit. In 2006, the average stay was 3.2 nights, according to Schutter. The company believes that its camp-resorts on average have a higher revenue per site-night and a longer average stay than that experienced by other campgrounds — independent or franchised.
In the coming year, LSI will accelerate its marketing to campers with grandchildren and is encouraging franchisees to add water attractions to their camp-resorts, Crawford said.
LSI will begin to distribute some 250,000 franchise location directories in January, Crawford said. Distribution requests are fulfilled through trade shows, welcome centers, telephone, Internet and e-mail.
Originally formed in 1969 as Jellystone Campgrounds Ltd., the company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Park River Corp., a privately held Cincinnati company. The franchisor celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2009.