By Ronnie Garrett
PHOENIX, Ariz. — KOA kicked off the second day of its annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona, with the President’s and Founder’s Award Breakfast, sponsored by Independence Bank, and followed by an engaging keynote presentation.
The breakfast drew approximately 600 attendees to celebrate the hard efforts and accolades of campground owners across the country. It was a banner year for those in attendance with a 66 percent increase in award winners since 2010. In 2010, KOA handed out 149 awards versus 248 in 2017.
There was good reason to celebrate. Most KOA campgrounds exceeded 92 percent of KOA’s requirements for quality, and more campgrounds than ever before received a perfect score of 600 on their quality review scores.
After recognizing the leading KOA campgrounds, attendees were treated to a rousing keynote speech by the best-selling author of “The Ant and the Elephant.”
Vince Poscente entertained and informed attendees with his presentation titled, “Big Goals in Short Order,” which identified the keys to running a profitable business and enhancing the customer experience.
He pointed out that life is made up of a series of defining moments that characterize our decisions thereafter. These decision-making skills become habits. He notes that his were to walk away when things got too hard. Until one day, Poscente stood on the sidelines watching his friend compete in luge at the Olympic games.
“He’s marching in to the Olympic games as an athlete, and I’m standing in the crowd holding a ticket,” he says.
“Sitting back and watching others is not OK, but when we get to the point of discomfort, we will change,” he added.
And, change he did. Poscente rose to the ranks of Olympic skier in four years. He went to the games with the intention of winning gold in speed skiing, but instead came out with a winning attitude. The failure to get that gold medal did not stand in the way of his success.
He offered attendees a few ideas on how to achieve their own success at the campgrounds that they owned and operated.
First, he said, generate an emotional buzz, that is when a thought has an emotional reaction. In the campground world, those are the experiences that you provide to the families you serve.
“If a thought produces a physical reaction, it’s a thought worth paying attention to,” he said. “What you aspire toward doesn’t always have to make sense, it just has to feel right.”
He challenged attendees to ask themselves what would happen to their businesses if every time campers searched for a product or a service at their facility, there was an emotional buzz attached to it.
Agility, he said, comes next. “Everyone gets stuck in a rut,” he noted. “But it’s important to respond to a changing marketplace.” He encouraged attendees to step into foreign territory, whether it’s SEO, social media, or what have you, and ask themselves how they will compete.
“Do what your competitors are not willing to do,” he said. “If you do that, you will serve customers in a way that your competition does not.”
He asked attendees to align their subconscious and conscious minds when making decisions by continually asking how they will enrich families lives. “When you put the ant (the conscious mind) and the elephant (the subconscious mind) in the same direction, it just gets easier,” he said.
A high-speed skier must be aerodynamic, and so do your businesses, Poscente noted. “You will not be efficient if there is drag,” he said. “The No. 1 drag is fear. It stands in the way of fully engaging. But the secret to doing well in any race is to have fun; fun is contagious.”
“Have no regrets on race day and on every day,” he added.
He closed by reminding attendees that sometimes life gets in the way of our successes by putting bumps in the way. In those cases, Poscente reminded everyone to “reach forward instead of walking away. The future is now—seize it.”