Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Agritourism Panel

Have trouble convincing locals that we have something to see. We take it for granted.

Con Pekrul, Plain View Winery
Started making wines as a hobby with his father.
Did strawberry wines to help another winery.

Rickey Squires, Rawhide Creek Ranch
Near Taloga
Hunting lodge can sleep 16, probably the largest lodge in Oklahoma
Big enough to be licensed as a motel and as a restaurant
Started in 2000
bird hunting.
Market outside of a 300 mile radius. 95% of clients are from out of state.
I learned early on that the business I'm in is not hunting. The business I'm in is entertainment.
Entertainment is a mindset of everybody that works for you.
Hunt on 30,000 acres. Waterfowl, deer, turkey, release quail and chuckars. Waterfowl: ducks and geese.
Oklahoma is worst market. Texas is second worst. Lots of hunters, but they have lots of hunting. It's a tough market.
if the meals aren't good, then they aren't coming back.

Mary Steichen
Silver Top Farm, founded in the 1940's.
3000 acres of farm land and pasture
Produce small grains. Sheep, cattle. Pecans. 4 acre vineyard this year. Will be adding a winery.
Burros and goats as attractions.
Stepping into group tours and hunting.
She left a law firm in Dallas Texas when her father passed away.
Other people might be interested in what she was learning. Her network was always asking for more farm stories. So they took that as an opportunity.
Neighbor was putting in a B&B.
Going together and branding the area as the Salt Fork River Valley.
Kick off in June.

Jeannie Hepner
Sage and Saddle B&B near Freedom.
Rely on daughter and grand-daughter.
House came up for sale. It was kind of an accident to become a B&B in 2001.
Started it as a B&B, and to have a bigger place for her own family.
It's not large, it's not fancy, it's comfortable.
We've had BPW groups, Chick Trips, hunters.
There are a lot of things that can happen around Freedom, Oklahoma.
If you like to meet people,
You've got to like what you're doing. THat's my motto for anyone going into agri-tourism.
Start small.
Don't advertise anything you don't have.
So glad to meet people that are close enough that we can recommend other activities and attractions.
The possibilities for Northwest Oklahoma are wonderful. Agritourism has grown. I encourage you all to do it. It is one of the best things that I can see that has happened to Oklahoma.
Jeanne COle has been my right hand person. She has been very helpful.
Still gets letters, email and Christmas cards from visitors from four years ago. (You get a FEW, but most are so wonderful.)

Reaching customers.
Winery does trade shows regionally, all over the state. In return, people talk with their friends. Communication between friends. He talks visitors into eating barbecue in town before they leave. Advertising in nearby towns doesn't return any resutls.

Hunting lodge does trade shows, but all over the COUNTRY, not the state. That's the first step.

I'm a big believer in the internet. Update about every 3 months. Last night had a hunter take a deer, uploaded a photo that night, the hunter called all his buddies to go look, so they all saw his site. Has three hunting brokers.

Just started working with a travel agent, when she approached him.

Word of mouth is your best, and also your worst enemy. If you can't make friends with em, you aren't going to be successful. (there are people who are a pain, but that's the minority.) You don't want everybody.

Never lowball yourself on price. He once sat at a trade show with low prices, did no business, walked around and surveyed, marked up to 20% over, and started selling hunts. I don't want cheap art in my house ($120,000 instead of $12,000). We can't do what we do in agritourism for nothing.

Now approaching TV shows in the hunting industry. Had 37 phone calls, 10 while it was still on the air. Has 6 TV crews coming out this year. Magazine articles work, but ads don't. If you can get people to do a story about your property. It took about a year to get those TV crews booked. Many times they are at the trade show, and then spend a lot of time in their booth. Then you just bug 'em. Call 'em every 30 days. You take those guys hunting for free. He gets all the footage that they shoot. Every time a show comes, that is fixin to be on my website.

Print advertising does not work in my business either.

Three farms together doing events and bus tours. You definitely don't want to be intimidated by setting your prices. You might be nervous at first, but set your price at what it needs to be.

B&B started with word of mouth. Her son-in-law is an employee of the wildlife department. (Work your network!) Internet has advantages and disadvantages. Get scam bookings. Pricing: if it's cheap, what's wrong with it?

Websites of the Panelists


Use .us or at least tie it up, if you are targeting international market.
School superintendent made connections through for foreign exchange students for international visitors.

Winery: belongs to Oklahoma grape trade association
Travel associations will take your materials to trade shows, help you get reduced cost on trade shows, lots of other free resources.
State tourism department helps put together fly, drive tours, esp. international.

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