BILLINGS – Rubbing two sticks together and making a fire, relaxing around a fire, rolling out a sleeping bag or pitching a tent: Kampgrounds of America has been providing this experience to people for half a century, and they are now unleashing a new project that looks to the future of camping.
“You can actually look at them in virtual reality or you can go online and navigate through and then we put a descriptive copy there that explains what the concept is about. We took things into account like technology advancement and environmental considerations,” said CEO and President of KOA Toby O’Rourke.
“All of these things that have become very commonplace in your life, and how that will infiltrate our business on the campground.”
Imagine camping up in the trees, or underwater. Drones dropping off campfire wood. Based on scientific surveys, the KOA has been perfecting what campers want from their outdoor experience with campground of the future.
KOA offers five campground concepts on their website and a few features that are already in development.
“We are always trying to inspire people to camp, whether it’s now or 2030. We are using it internally as a blueprint as to where we are headed,” O’Rourke said. “So what it’s doing now is allowing us to mobilize programs around actually building out a lot of the concepts that are in the campground of the future. Airports are doing facial recognition technology.”
“Everybody has an Alexa Amazon device in their homes, an echo. So you’re taking those technologies and we are just trying to bring those to the campgrounds.”
For those worrying that technology will take away from the experience? O’Rourke said technology should be seamlessly integrated and not distracting.
“We are seeing in our numbers that people are looking to disconnect when they are outside. Where a couple of years ago the connections and the wanting to be on social media while camping, how many times you’re checking in and the importance of wifi was a lot higher, and now it’s starting to decrease,” O’Rourke said.
“And I think that’s just speaking to a trend we are having. Especially with children, people are much more aware of ok we actually need to have some offline time and camping is a great place for that.”
Story by Zoe Zandora, MTN News