Encouraging Scaredy Cats To Book Your Thrilling Experience: 5 Tips For Outdoor Activity Businesses

When you’re selling an exhilarating experience—zip lining, bungee jumping, skydiving, whitewater rafting, or anything that gets the adrenaline pumping—it’s important to acknowledge the mental hurdles that some potential new customers might be contemplating. No matter how safe and controlled, some thrill-based activities can look pretty perilous to someone who’s never done them before. That’s why it’s important to appeal to customers’ adventurous sides, while also assuaging their uncertainties. After all, it only takes one awesome experience to turn a fearful skeptic into a full-blown convert!

A guest’s experience with your outdoor activity business starts long before they’re whizzing through the treetops or diving face-first off a bridge—it starts when they land on your website. These 5 easy tips can help nervous customers have more confidence in your business, and give on-the-fence questioners that final nudge to click the “book it” button.

1. Bust. Those. Myths.

The folks at Skydive Oklahoma have a handy FAQ tab on their website.

Some of the biggest obstacles you face in promoting your outdoor activity business are merely issues of perception. Commonly circulated myths make it easy for those waffling about your services to opt out.

“By providing answers to even the simplest of questions, you’re conveying the message that you welcome newbies, you understand their fears, and you will work with them to ensure a fantastic experience.”

Tackle this problem directly by using your web page to highlight and dispel non-truths. With a bungee-jumping business, for example, this might mean explaining how unlikely ocular and spinal injuries are. For a whitewater rafting tour, you might need to articulate that rafting excursions don’t necessarily involve hours of careening over Class V and VI rapids—perhaps highlight the pleasure of leisurely exploring the area around the river, and stopping for frequent swimming breaks in calm pools.

Consider outfitting your website with a handy Q&A or tips for first-timers who want to know everything before getting started. By providing answers to even the simplest of questions, you’re conveying the message that you welcome newbies, you understand their fears, and you will work with them to ensure a fantastic experience.

2. Be First-Timer Friendly

Even after you’ve helped clear up some common misconceptions about your business, think about additional ways to make first-timers feel extra welcome.

Here are four ways to be first-timer friendly:

  • Offer a discount for new customers: Perhaps the most prevalent (and powerful) tactic in the age of Internet deals? Discounts for first-timers. Give folks some extra incentive to follow through with a targeted social media campaign featuring themed promo codes like “BEGINNER SPECIAL.” Offering the experience at a reasonable price could entice visitors to purchase, even if they’re doing so on a whim.
  • Establish a meaningful relationship with potential customers: Consider the copy on your website, and the type of persuasive messaging you want to convey. It could be along the lines of “the ideal opportunity to try something outside your comfort zone,” or “finally cross this off your bucket list!” You could also market your experience as an awesome and memorable bonding opportunity for friends and family. However you spin it, it’s up to you to coax out the adventurous side of potential customers. Be the friend on their shoulder encouraging them to take the leap!
  • Provide options that appeal to a range of experience levels: Our friend Tara Eilts, owner of Treehouse Island Zip Line Adventures, points out that “always giving options so people are never forced to do anything is a really big deal.” Her business smartly offers an “Island-Only Pass” for “those who want to join in the fun…at ground level!” Another good example comes from Screaming Eagle Zip Line Tours, which offers different course levels ranging from family-friendly experiences to runs with extreme heights and speeds.

3. Got Great Reviews And Testimonials? Put Them To Work!

Ninety percent of respondents who read online reviews claimed positive comments influenced their decision to buy.

If you have an outstanding track record with clients, it’s time to start tooting your own horn. Public review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor can essentially function as free advertising, so be sure to highlight positive feedback. It’s an authentic reflection of your company, and one of the strongest forces attracting more clients. Research shows customers spend up to 31 percent more on a business with excellent reviews, and 90 percent of respondents who read online reviews claimed positive comments influenced their decision to buy.

There’s lots of great ways to leverage positive reviews. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Embedded widgets: Get an embedded widget for your website from TripAdvisor, or a badge from Yelp (or both). For example, our partners at Del Sur Adventures have a scrolling ticker in a prominent spot on their homepage featuring a glowing review.
  • Virtual guestbook: We saw this on Balloon Atlanta’s website and loved it. There’s an invitation on their home page to “sign our virtual guestbook.” If you click on it, you’re taken to a page full of positive feedback.
  • Put good reviews on your website: This can take many forms, whether it’s an embedded screenshot, a neat graphic with a customer testimonial, or even a video. If you offer multiple experiences, consider embedding a positive customer review on each product page.

Our partners at World Skydiving Center feature a customer testimonial prominently on their homepage.

    • Share on social media: If a customer gives you an awesome shoutout, take a screenshot and re-share on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. It’s a great opportunity to thank them publicly while bolstering your company’s reputation.
    • Use reviews in newsletters & email marketing: If you use an email marketing service provider such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, this is another perfect channel to showcase positive reviews and testimonials.

4. Let the Customer Get to Know You

Our friends at Sierra Whitewater have a tab on their website dedicated to its guides, as well as an introduction to the owner.

Having a page on your website titled “meet our guides” or “get to know our staff” is a fun and authentic way to put a human face behind your experiences, and assure first-time visitors you’ve got a great team. Not only does this personalize your brand, it’s also an ideal place to give a quick description of each staffer’s qualifications, credentials, years of experience, and passions. Instagram is an ideal platform for this as well. Consider having periodic “guide takeovers” to give potential customers a close-up look at any given day’s tours or experiences.

5. Highlight Your Qualifications

In a business where fear may be the biggest factor holding back potential customers, it’s important to convey professionalism and expertise in every way. Consider putting these items on your website:

  • Certifications & Credentials: Whatever you’ve got, list it. Sierra Whitewater points out that all of its guides are “local, First Aid and CPR certified, and have swiftwater rescue training.”
  • Memberships: Buttress your credibility by listing any official organizations you belong to, such as the Professional Ropes Course Association or American Whitewater. Skydive Oklahoma has a “group member” badge on their website for the U.S. Parachute Association.
  • Stats: Consider listing the number of years you’ve been in the industry, the amount of “jumps” or “dives” logged, trips taken, number of students trained, etc.

Lastly, if your website doesn’t look professional, people may question your competence in other areas. A modern, easy-to-navigate web page (with a similarly user-friendly reservation system) is ultimately the first impression most guests will have of your business. Make it a good one!