By Chuck Woodbury
The giant annual lovefest of the RV industry, called RVX, just ended in Salt Lake City. It’s where RV industry people come to network, gawk at new models, party, and discuss how they can ramp up sales from a half million RVs a year (like in 2017) to 600,000.
KOA’s exhibit this year was about the campground of the future. Check out the screen shots below from the virtual reality tours you can see at campthefuture.com. These ideas rival Walt Disney’s dream of Fantasyland, which he in fact created, while KOA’s vision is wacko fantasy. Do they really believe this? I’m thinking: where’s George Jetson in this picture?
Here’s what KOA’s CEO says
“With the increase in camping popularity comes a greater need to ensure the longevity of camping through smart design and preservation of nature,” said KOA’s CEO Toby O’Rourke. “We believe that thoughtful use of technology and devotion to sustainably growing camping offerings will meet the increased expectations of campers, while further enhancing that connection with nature that camping provides.”
“Connection with nature?” Really?
Understand that very few KOA’s are company owned. Most are franchised operations, run by hard-working small business people — mom, pop and sometimes their kids. After paying a franchise fee, they pay KOA 10% of their sales for the privilege of being listed in the KOA catalog, marketing help, and flying the KOA flag. So you tell me: Could these small-business people ever come up with campgrounds as exotic as these? Could they afford to build them, or even come close?
Okay, the fact is there are some nice KOAs these days: Maybe 10% of the 500 or so of them are really, really nice. But none come close to what KOA is now portraying as the campground of the future.
Here are two examples of future campgrounds as envisioned by KOA. The website mentioned above shows others, equally as unrealistic and economically impossible.
The coastal campground of the future
Next, the urban campground of the future
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