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First Day of Canadian Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo Filled with Informative Sessions, Networking

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The 2022 Canadian Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo is being held virtually this year, still, the excitement was felt all around during its opening day as Canadian campground operators and industry vendors came together in spirit to attend the event organized by the Canadian Camping and RV Council (CCRVC).

Canadian park owners, sponsors, and speakers at their homes and offices were pumped and full of energy as they began the day connecting in speed date-style Coffee & Conversation networking sessions. The chatbox was also filled with messages from both exhibitors and attendees expressing their excitement over the event’s kickoff.

To officially celebrate the conference’s opening, Larry Brownfield, the senior director of Kampgrounds of America’s Franchise Development Services, delivered a keynote address “Focusing on the Future” where he shared how campground owners can deal with tipping points. Ultimately, he encouraged everyone in the industry to cast their vision.

“We’re either gonna grow, or we’re gonna decline, so move forward. Be proactive, not reactive,” Brownfield said. 

The event’s launch was jampacked with educational sessions ranging from topics on marketing and technology, operations and fundamentals, professional development, and customer experience. Breakout sessions on specific subjects under those categories will be held until Thursday.

During a regular session on customer experience, Pete Lafreniere, the sales manager of Parkbridge Resorts, emphasized the importance of delivering unforgettable customer experience to keep guests satisfied and engaged.

He said that providing exceptional customer experience through something as simple as greeting them enthusiastically as early as booking is a defendable competitive advantage.

“Good service is no longer good enough. If the service that we’re currently providing is ‘okay,’ we lose. It’s not good enough,” Lafreniere said. “But if the service that we’re providing is experiential, then we win every single time. We win the sale, we win the word-of-mouth advertising, and best of all, increased revenues. That’s what we have to aim for.”

Members of the camping and RV industry also received updates during the Industry Trends & Insights session with KOA’s Franchise Development Managers Nichole Poisson and Matt Stovold.

During the session, they presented data revealing the industry’s current state. The camping industry’s growth remains steady, with 21% of Canadian Campers in 2020 being new and 20% of Canadian Campers restarting camping this year. For Canada’s RV industry, Poisson shared that 38% of campers say they are more likely to purchase an RV as a result of the pandemic, and 50% of those who bought an RV will continue camping this year.

However, challenges are ever-present as 84% of Canadian companies now face hiring issues. Having enough inventory remains a problem as well.

Still, RVing continues to grow as Poisson reported that 34% of Canadian campers use RVs as primary camping accommodation and that 85% of KOAs cater to RVs.

Later in the day, a panel of full-time RVers, Rae and Jason Miller of Getaway Couple and RVgeeks Peter Knize and John Sullivan shared insights about things guests look for when booking a site. During this, they stressed the importance of internet access. They also shared RVing tips and answered some questions from attendees.

Other special sessions included Diversity and Inclusion with speaker Lindsey Lerner who imparted knowledge on getting to know the new demographics of the camping market and how parks can be welcoming and inclusive. Care Camps’ Jennifer Mercer also held a session on how campgrounds can support great causes by creating “fun-raising” activities, helping charities while improving the guest experience.

The virtual event was not only informative but also rich in networking opportunities. Aside from the morning’s networking session, a Sponsor Speed Dating portion connected attendees with sponsors and suppliers to learn about services and products that will benefit their business. A CCRVC Lounge to cap the day off served as a virtual bar where attendees joined video chats and other lounges according to varied topics of discussion.

The expo is open throughout the event and attendees are free to visit the booths at any time.

Today, more informative sessions and interactive networking opportunities are scheduled to take place. Beth Potter of Tourism Industry Association of Canada is also set to discuss the association’s strategies for this year. There will also be a panel on Green Strategy Implementation.

The 2022 Canadian Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo is underway and continues until Friday. This year’s event is virtual, taking advantage of technology with easily-accessible sessions.

Attendees can also download the Accelevents app on their phones where they can access the agenda and even join live sessions—all at the tip of their fingers. 

Conference content is available for ticket holders 30 days after the event to re-watch. Those who could not attend can register to gain access to the video recordings, said CCRVC Member Services Coordinator Cara Csizmadia.

For more information on the Canadian Outdoor Hospitality Conference & Expo, please visit the website athttps://canada.mycampcon.com or contact Cara Csizmadia at [email protected]

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