Bringing Camping Online

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Sponsored content by SOCi.

With over 520 locations across the US and Canada and more than sixty years in business, the KOA franchise is at the top of outdoor hospitality. Throughout recent surges in outdoor recreation and changes to how people access camping, their mission, “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” has proved especially relevant. Diane Eichler, Vice President of Marketing for KOA, sat down with SOCi to discuss some of the digital transformations they’ve implemented to help bring camping online.

1. How has your industry shifted in the past few years and what digital changes have you made to adapt?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought new audiences to camping and outdoor hospitality as people looked for ways to travel and explore. With the extreme growth in the camping market, our marketing has had an increased focus on attracting and educating consumers that might not be as familiar with the space.

KOA has been at the forefront of technology within the outdoor hospitality space. Most of our campground reservations are made online, and our web platform's strength has aided us greatly. One of the main shifts implemented was the creation of a contactless check-in process which helps people get to their sites quickly and safely.

2. Can you talk about how KOA defines marketing success and what kind of digital and localized marketing goals the team is looking to achieve?

KOA defines success as cultivating a unique and positive experience on and off the campground, which leads to more brand loyalty. Every KOA franchisee operates independently, but getting campgrounds more involved in their digital marketing through social media and review management helps the system as a whole by increasing the KOA brand authority and awareness. Those are the overarching goals we strive for.

3. KOA brought SOCi on as a digital marketing partner in 2022. What problems were you looking to solve that made you look for a digital marketing platform and ultimately choose SOCi?

We were looking for a more modern platform in terms of functionality and user experience with a responsive support team. The integrated features of social posting, review management, and listening made SOCi the right choice. The added benefit of direct franchisee access and the robust role and permissions functionality made it easier for campgrounds to manage and improve their digital presence.

KOA primarily uses the listing management platform to maintain consistency for all listings in sync with and its content management system. KOA is using social media posting and scheduling tools for our national efforts, as well as providing access and guidance for franchisees. The team also extensively uses social listening tools to identify trends and conversations in the outdoor hospitality landscape. Franchisees utilize review management tools to respond to their campers’ feedback.

4. How has SOCi made a difference to your marketing team and franchisees?

The ease by which campgrounds can communicate with current and potential campers through social media using the SOCi scheduling platform, and the ability for them to maintain a healthy response to camper feedback have already made a difference. The social listening tools help KOA stay aware and be proactive around current and upcoming changes to the outdoor hospitality landscape.

5. What does the future have in store for KOA?

We are continuing to focus on innovating outdoor hospitality and maintaining our place as an industry leader. Currently, we are focused on creating unique site types and amenities to help people connect to nature in new ways. We are also working to implement new technology, like electric vehicle charging, into our guest experience seamlessly.