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Agritourism – also known as farm tourism, agri-tainment, agricultural tourism, or agrotourism – has a long history in America. Because of the generation gap between farm and non-farm families, the demand for a slower paced farm experience has now become the catalyst for farm-based recreation to become an important business. Agritourism has become a tool that has a direct economic impact on farms and the surrounding communities.
A wide variety of regulations may affect agritourism enterprise operations. The affect of regulations may depend on the type of attractions offered, location of the enterprise, whether employees are hired and a number of other factors specific to each enterprise. These regulations may be imposed at the federal, state and local levels of government. It is important to investigate all regulations applicable to your agritourism enterprise in order to avoid penalties, fines or interruptions to you business. This resource document provides an introduction to a number of regulations that may impact agritourism operations.
What types of risk are you taking on when you engage in agritourism? The first risk normally thought of is liability. While liability is extremely important, other types of risk are also important for you to consider. To be successful, you must correctly assess and manage risk.
Agricultural tourism increases the potential for on farm sales with value-adding products and services, further diversifying the product line of the farm operation. There are three agritourism basics: have something for visitors to see, something for them to do and something for them to buy. There are many activities that can be incorporated into agritourism. Most successful ventures started with one idea, perfected it and then moved on to add the next idea. This diversification offers farmers benefits including increased revenue, an opportunity to educate the public, and a new way of marketing products and services. Agritourism offers tourists unique experiences, a connection with where their food comes from, and cultural or heritage experiences. Planning a successful agritourism enterprise includes: business planning, marketing, learning legal rules and regulations, assessing risk and safety considerations, and considering customer satisfaction.
Agritourism venues require a significant amount of planning, marketing, and promotion to create successful enterprises. The primary focus of all marketing and promotion activities is to inform potential visitors about the operation and its activities and to attract visitors to the farm. Marketing involves the identification of a potential customer’s needs and wants. This requires thorough planning and execution with focus on identifying a target audience and their needs, attracting the targeted audience to the farm, getting the targeted audience to spend their money by selling to their needs and wants, and creating an inviting environment that will cause the targeted audience to come back again. A marketing plan includes researching the potential market for the products, setting financial goals, establishing a marketing mix, developing a budget, monitoring customer response, making a contingency plan, and making a list of tasks necessary to put the plan into action.
There are a number of questions that must be asked and honestly answered when considering whether to start and operate an agritourism operation. For example, you should evaluate factors such as personal characteristics and skills, target markets, market potential, land and property resources and characteristics, individual and family goals, time and labor considerations, and financial needs and resources. An honest evaluation of these factors will help you understand your potential for success.
Good owners and managers of businesses are very involved with their communities. They volunteer to help rather than waiting to be asked. They look for good community causes and then work to develop good relationships with others who support those causes. Successful business people look for the needs within the community, and ways in which they can assist. Your purpose is to help your community. However, as a result of your commitment, wonderful opportunities often present themselves. Through your community involvement, you can also maximize your business's exposure.
Customer service encompasses many things including appearance of your operation, reception the customer receives, knowledge of your employees, accuracy of directions and ease of accessibility. While satisfied customers will provide repeat business and attract more customers to your business, dissatisfied customers won't return and they may discourage potential customers from visiting your business. Steps to improve customer service include: developing a written customer plan, identifying your customers, and determining what it will take to satisfy them. If you fall short of full satisfaction, you need to know how to correct the problem as soon as possible.
The basis of any promotional program is product excellence. If your product or operation is excellent, promotion will enhance your sales. If your product is poor, all the advertising in the world will not help. This publication offers some suggestions for promoting your agritourism business.