No, it's not all about the attractions

When agritourism Fall festivals first emerged around three decades ago, the focus was almost entirely on the corn maze as the attraction to get people to attend. Since then, farm festivals have evolved and diversified with multiple attractions.

Yes, the attractions are an important part of the formula. But today, the recipe for success is about so much more. It's about the total experience, which has multiple parts, of which the attractions are only some of those parts. Unfortunately, this is what many farm festivals continue to get wrong. What worked decades ago is no longer as successful. It's no longer about focusing only on attractions like in agritourism's early days.

Today, farm experiences compete with much more than other agritourism experiences. They now compete not only with competition in their industry, nor with different types of out-of-home entertainment destinations in their geographic area, but with other companies anywhere in the world for the customer's time, money, and attention.

Time is limited - People only have 24 hours a day, of which, on average, only five hours are available for leisure activities. So, if another company gets a customer to spend leisure time with them, either digitally or in-person, that is less time that can be spent at a particular farm experience.

Money is consumable - If a customer spends their discretionary money with any other company, whether for leisure or anything else, now that customer can't spend that money on a farm experience.

Attention is scarce - Today's media and the technology-saturated world make it challenging to capture customers' attention with typical advertising and marketing. When another company creates an engaging experience that captures a customer's attention, whether online or offline, less attention can be directed to a particular farm experience.

Even if a farm experience captures a customer's attention to visit, the quality of the experience still boils down to whether the customer considers their time and money well spent. Failure today can be as simple as not offering a compelling enough experience to make guests want to return, which can also bring a bad online review.

Rather than merely memorable experiences, many people are now looking for highly meaningful ones, raising the bar on whether they consider their time and money well spent. What we missed the most during the pandemic were meaningful experiences. This includes highly social, face-to-face experiences after social isolation and restrictions. This has impacted many customers' choices for their out-of-home leisure experiences.

All this means an agritourism farm's experiences need to be great today! Every aspect, every minute of the experience has to compete with customers' other options for their time, money and attention. This includes

  • How fast the webpage loads before they come (anything more than 3 seconds is a problem).
  • How easy, how intuitive it is to find what you want on the website.
  • How easy it is to make a reservation.
  • What condition the parking lot and grounds are in.
  • How authentic the farm's setting is.
  • The selection, quality, craveability, and foodie-ness of food and beverages.
  • How friendly and helpful the staff is.

Every moment, every interaction with staff or equipment or the environment, everything from the very first second of the experience on the website until the very last second of the experience matters and forms the customer's evaluation and perceived value of the total experience for their time, money, and attention. The attractions are just one facet of the guest's experience journey.

Also see this issues article:

Subscribe to Agritourism Today