Jeep is working to protect the trail it blazed in 1953.
The brand, which was a pioneer in using special events to market its products, says it continues to seek the opinions of participants to make the events more interesting and enjoyable.
Those improvements have included adding presentations by engineers and product planners; getting more equipment for outdoor activities; increasing children's programs; and adding sites across the country.
'Fifty percent of our owners repurchase Jeeps,' said Lou Bitonti, senior manager of global customer relationship management for Jeep. 'We have to take care of our owner body.'
Jeep concentrates on three programs:
1. Jeep Jamboree. This program was started in 1953, and accommodates about 100 Jeep owners and their families per two-day trip. Thirty-five Jeep Jamborees are run in the United States, plus a few in Canada and parts of Europe and Asia.
2. Camp Jeep. This annual weekend event started seven years ago. It consists of family-oriented camping and outdoor activities, and about 10,000 people participate annually.
3. Jeep 101. This four-day event was started five years ago. Jeep 101 now teaches off-road driving in 20 cities across the country for about 160,000 participants.
'We build a course of 'mountains' and log bridges,' Bitonti said. 'An instructor is with you to teach the capability of the vehicle. We take you a little out of your comfort zone in a safe, fun manner.'
Jeep is still trying to track its return on investment for the programs, he said, but he is certain 'this is the right way for us to position the brand and talk to owners. What makes the events strong is owners and prospects touch, see and interact with the vehicles.'