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The Power of Incentives

Everybody loves a great incentive. People are naturally drawn to contests and the promise of a prize! For example, think about the classic claw machine arcade game. We usually put more money into the claw machine trying to get the prize, than what the prize is worth! But the idea of triumphing over that claw, and winning that awesome, stuffed bear for only 50 cents (times about 20) motivates us to keep putting money into that slot. The same kind of incentives can be used for profit at your agritourism venue.​


For any agritourism venue, the opportunities for additional activities are endless. When we discuss these opportunities, remember that there is a limit to activities that require added cost. If it appears “that everything costs extra” our guests will get the idea that we are nickel and diming them to death. Make sure that your main gate fee includes a large percentage of your venue. From there, make sure that your additional cost activities offer a benefit to your guests. For instance, make sure they fit into one of these categories:

  1. Unique opportunity that they can’t experience anywhere else

  2. The chance to win something in return for their effort

  3. A substantial added cost to you to purchase and install

  4. Something that creates a memory that will last a lifetime

Now many of your additional cost activities may fit into more than one of these categories. That’s great! Just make sure that when you charge extra, you have carefully evaluated how it can add to the overall experience. And when you offer something for additional cost, make sure it’s top notch. There is no substitute for professionalism. It is a juggling act and something that you will need to evaluate when you nail down your prices. Let’s look a little deeper into some possible “additional cost” incentive based activities.

Corn Cannon

If you are part of an agritourism venue, chances are that you are familiar with a corn cannon. For us, a corn cannon was an annual part of our activities for which there was an additional cost. At our corn cannon shooting range, we would set up multiple, reachable targets at which our customers could aim. However, in addition to those close-to-mid-range targets, we also set up one long-range target that was difficult, but possible to hit. (These targets were typically tied into our overall theme and were changed every year.) If our customers hit this long-range target, they could pick out a free candy bar or drink at our concession stand. And believe me, a free candy bar or drink from the concession was a small price to pay for the profit in tickets that were sold! Guests would buy ticket after ticket trying to hit this long-range target and claim bragging rights and win their prize.

Apple Slingshot

Using the same targets, this was a large slingshot mounted between poles that were securely buried in the ground. Same principle, same outcome. Apples were launched and prizes were won. The cost can be lower for this one since it didn’t use electricity, but it was harder to aim. Under “resources” you can see and purchase these slingshots.

Thematic Large Prize Events

As we have mentioned before, each year we choose a theme that becomes our focus. We design our maze, build our activities and even decorate around a central theme. For example, on more than one occasion we have used two rival NFL teams as the central focus of that year’s venue. (It does require some added work and cost to secure permission for trademarks and images, but we have determined it is well worth it.) To go along with that theme, we also have a contest that runs throughout our Fall season and offers one large prize to the eventual winner. For the NFL, we offered both a kicking contest complete with a lined field and goal posts and a passing contest for accuracy. The competition offered one big prize at the end of the season and we kept track of the current winners. We gave away things like a favorite team jersey and tickets to an NFL game. For NASCAR we had a running “pitstop” competition and gave away NASCAR driving experience tickets.

Pony Rides

This is self-explanatory, but fits well into our categories for additional costs. Of course some of this will be determined by whether or not you own your own or have to bring in another source to run the activity.

Animal Feeders

You can look at these dispensers under “resources” and then under “petting farms”. These are minimal cost to your guests but add to the interactive experience with your animals. These are a great long-term investment. If you read our blog “animals part 4” you can learn about some creative food delivery options as well!


I have plenty more examples I could give you, but will leave you with those! Get creative. Come up with different prizes, competitions, or giveaways that motivate your customers to keep coming back for more. And don’t be afraid to change up those incentives from year-to-year. People like new and exciting things – especially if prizes are involved!

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