By the time you have taken your second step into the aviary, hundreds of birds fly towards you. Place your arms out in front of you. You will be covered from fingertip to shoulder in colour by birds of all sizes and species in no time at all.
An up-close encounter with the birds is one of a handful of intimate experiences you’ll have with animals at the Glen Forest Tourist Park, Port Lincoln, SA.
Sounds fun, right? It was – a great deal of fun for all of us.
I worry more people don’t get to experience it, however.
See, it was the middle of the week, and for most of the time we were there, we were on our own.
Sure, a small animal farm is more for families with kids, one might say. It was the middle of the week.
But it’s not a small animal farm. It is a genuinely remarkable up-close experience with a handful of animals. Unless you’re terrified by animals, anybody of any age will get a massive kick out of the experience.
What are the missed opportunities? How can they attract more people, acquire more five-star reviews, charge a higher price and get more people through the gate?
And what can you learn from it for your business too?
IN RESEARCH PHASE OF THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY:
When you are researching Glen Forest Tourist Park, you will be confused by what it is and what they do.
It sits on the domain visitglenforest.com.
Clever, it could look like the local tourism authority simple through the domain [visit]somewhere.com.
However, visual identity and information layout are not clear enough to look like a tourism organisation.
The visual identity (website, design, logo, fonts etc) look childish. Not produced by a child, but for children. It would be very off-putting for other demographics.
They also have Segway Tours and a Vineyard on the website. Ummm… what? Now I’m just confused.
I’m guessing that part of the problem stems from a lack of strategy and understanding, who the audience is, and what they’re really selling.
As mentioned earlier, if you’re selling a close-up encounter with animals, you open the audience to animal lovers of every age. Note: everyone is not your audience. Animal lovers are.
The key here is to niche into a psychographic, not a demographic. A feeling or value your audiences shares. Not an age group or geographic location.
Not only does it increase the available audience, but it also makes it easier to target people through your marketing messages and appeal to people on a far more robust level – emotionally.
But if you do this, what do you do with the visitglenforest.com domain? The Vineyard and the Segway tours?
Here is the magic in the strategy. You split them out to look like their own businesses.
Splitting them out allows you to position each to unique audiences. Attracting other people, clarifying the messaging, pricing, story and everything else about each.
You also increase the businesses’ digital footprint, making it easier for people to find these experiences.
You can then make the current domain look like a local tourism authority. Simply by implying this, you would increase trust in visitors and move more people to book.
The other important thing you can achieve is managing visitor expectations.
People review businesses in line with their expectation upon arrival. If you set an expectation of a tourism park you need to deliver it.
We loved the park, and our experience with the birds would have pushed us to a 4 out of 5-star review. Just.
Had we visited the park with the expectation that it was a small farm experience where you get up-close and personal with animals and get lots of photos with them, the experience would have matched our expectation. We would have been far more likely to review it a 5.
Let’s be honest. A 5-star review is not the holy grail any more. It is the minimum you should be aiming for.
Less than remarkable isn’t good enough anymore in this connected word-of-mouth driven world.
IN THE ANTICIPATION PHASE:
Just one more thing…
To get there, you are driving on an unsealed road for 10-15 minutes and questioning whether you are going in the right direction.
All it would take is a sign every couple of mins saying ‘You’re X minutes from meeting the animals’, to know you’re on the right road and to build anticipation.
You don’t need to be clever, polished, or experienced to improve your position, messaging or clarify what you do.
Designing a remarkable experience requires you to be strategic, get clear about your audience and communicate what you do with clarity. Set a great expectation but still find ways to delight the customer and over-deliver.