As I was researching the adventure tourism market prior to launching Terrapin Adventures, I traveled across the country talking to owners of zip line canopy tours. On one trip to British Columbia, I visited two facilities just 8 miles apart. The first had the latest technology, with zip lines hundreds of feet in the air and spans of 2,000 ft. I could barely contain myself as I zipped along at 60 mph.
The next day I visited an older zip line canopy tour design with slower but still long zip traverses with beautiful scenery. It was, however, a much better tour. Why? The staff. The guides were more engaging, friendly and full of interesting information. From the moment I arrived, they made me feel comfortable, entertained, and cared for.
The point is that someone else who has the biggest, fastest, highest, or longest can always trump you. But if you create lasting memories with great guest/staff interaction, you build a valuable word of mouth venue. Your Staff Make The Difference.
You can train on technical skills but you must hire people who have a passion for the field. They must genuinely like to talk to guests, share information, and help people. Take the time to get to know prospective staff. Do they carry that twinkle, warmth, or energy about the field? All jobs have drudgery in daily tasks. Those who have a passion don’t get bogged down with the hassle or the 50th time someone asks for directions.
Reward the staff for doing the right things. In designing incentive systems, be careful what you wish for because you will get it. Make sure the behaviors and results you reward are in sync with growing your business or margin.
Lastly, get feedback from guests that you can share with staff so they can stay focused on the importance of customer relations.
Matt Baker is Chief Adventure Officer at Terrapin Adventures. Terrapin Adventures is an outdoor facility for family recreation, group team building and fun located at historic Savage Mill. For more information call 301-725-1313 or go to www.terrapinadventures.com.