Often we look at the hard costs versus the gained revenue when we choose to add an attraction to our Agritourism Venue. How much will it cost us to add this new attraction and how long will it take us to have it paid for by charging so much per ride, shot, or jump. That is a smart business practice and is very important when making these decisions, especially on very large purchases.
With that said, what we are going to talk about in today’s post is whether we should be spending significant resources on activities for which we won’t directly charge. Those activities that are either included in the gate fee or, for those with an a ’la carte setup, free with no obligation to ever buy anything else at your venue.
Should we dedicate scarce resources to this cause? YES! It is these value-added activities that customers view as “free”, even when they are paying a gate fee, that largely determines whether your guests feel like they have gotten value for their money when they get in their car at the end of the day. The conclusion they come to is THE thing that determines whether they will return and/or tell their friends and family about you.
I will be the first to admit that it can be an extremely difficult decision to spend a large percentage of your improvement budget on things that you may not see an immediate or definitive profit line item for at the end of the season – but it is critical to not neglect this part of your venue.
I think you can break these “free activities” into 2 categories which we will call “Anchor activities” & “Extra Activities” for this article.
I would generally say that Anchor Activities cost $10K or more to put in. These are things like a jumping pillow, mini-locomotive, high-end zip line, and other similar activities. Things you don’t plan on charging admission for and are part of the admission cost. These are generally things in which you can increase your gate fee immediately and see some of the benefit of that installation immediately. Adding major attraction like this to your Agritourism venue is critical for that long term sustained growth but this article will focus on those “Extra Activities”.
The Extra Activities are those things we add or improve on each year that the guests will not have to pay extra for. For the average sized venue, these are typically under that $7,500 price tag and can be a simple few hundred-dollar investment. Large venues have already discovered the value these provide and may spend a lot more in this department. I feel that it is important to add at least one of these extra activities each year to keep your venue from getting predictable and stagnant.
They can be as simple as a unique roller slide (how-to video here) or as extensive as an entire farm-themed play area. I will be the first to admit that it hurts more to spend thousands of dollars on an activity that will be “free” to your guests since you can’t see the results on a line item in my accounting, but it is super critical to adding that value that will keep your guests coming back and have your guests raving about your business.
For those just getting going on very tight budgets you need to make this a priority even if your additions fall much closer to the several-hundred dollar spend versus the thousands of dollars. Another option is to go after sponsors. You want to build a rolling pipe slide? Contact the plumbing supply places in your area and see if they will give you the materials in exchange for advertising and a sign on the slide with their name on it.
Another tangible benefit of adding more things for your guests to do for free while at your farm is that they will spend more time on average per visit. More time on your farm typically means more money spent on concessions and other extras.
The bottom line is that you want your guests to feel like the money they spent was a great value for all they could do and the fun they had with their families. Add something to your venue every year. Not sure what to add? Get your social media followers and email subscribers involved by giving them the top 3 things you are considering adding and let them vote! It is a great way to keep them thinking about your business and even giving them a sense of ownership as you give them the opportunity to have input on what you add next.
What free activities do you plan on adding this season? One of my personal favorites that is in the lower price range is the giant hay bale pyramid. If you have to buy the bales at full price (no sponsor) the cost can be $2,500 and up to put in every year but families and groups absolutely love it. It makes an unbeatable group photo op too! You can see the how-to video on building one of those here.
We would love to know what activity you are planning to add or an activity that you added in the past that was well received. Please email me at email@example.com and let us know!