Agritourism: Five core pillars for success

Agritourism relies on five core pillars of business development.

Public expectations for agritourism experiences have changed from a demand for high quality and service to the latest desire for high entertainment. Hugh McPherson of Maize Quest Fun Park in Pennsylvania shared his insight on this topic at the 2013 Great Lakes EXPO in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich.

With high entertainment now being the public’s expectation, stand-alone offerings just do not work anymore. With that in mind, McPherson has found that the following five pillars have been critical to the success of his business:

  1. A “fun park” component that offers games and activities for a broad range of ages and incomes, with at least one new offering each year
  2. A market for selling items related to the business for all incomes
  3. Food for the visitors to eat while visiting
  4. A courtyard for people to rest while visiting to extend their stay
  5. A seasonal focus that leads to an easy marketing and giveaway campaign

To start revising your operation today around these five principles, McPherson suggested that businesses start by taking an inventory of all of their attractions. Once this inventory has been completed, McPherson recommends considering the following questions:

  • What age group is each attraction designed for?
  • What age group might be underserved at your business?
  • What is the budget per attraction?

This process should inform the business owner on what could be expanded upon, deleted or added to give the business a well-rounded approach.

McPherson emphasized that this approach is found to be more successful and less time consuming than trying to offer something every season to make your place a year-round destination. By working smarter through implementing the five core pillars of an agritourism operation, he believes businesses will find that they have a greater financial gain at the end of the year.

The MSU Product Center, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, provides business counseling for product development and marketing strategies that will help Michigan entrepreneurs commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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