For years, franchisees of Kampgrounds of America touted their sites as the best in America — until a survey of campers found out otherwise, recalled Jim Rogers, chief executive officer of the world’s largest organization of privately held campgrounds.

The San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Tribune reported that Rogers addressed a group of about 30 students and budding business owners Wednesday (May 6) at the SLO HotHouse, an initiative created by Cal Poly, the San Luis Obispo Community, and the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Rogers spoke about his decision to seek customer feedback through a thorough analysis and how that led to specific improvements such as replacing the front desk clerk, repairing infrastructure or adding visitor-friendly amenities such as pools.

Several of the franchisees — who cater to RV travelers in addition to recreational campers — had to take a close look at their businesses, he said, such as replacing a family member at the front desk or adding a pool or deluxe cabin.

The company also improved customer satisfaction by increasing interaction between customers and KOA sites’ owners.

The owners who made a point to engage with more campers at their sites showed improved ratings for customer service.

“What we’ve discovered through studies is that people remember and appreciate meeting the owner, and they want to come back after they do,” Rogers said.

The executive with a background in the hotel and casino industry said he’d make trips to KOA campground sites and talked with franchisees who proclaimed their site was “the best KOA in America.”

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