Best Management Practices in Agritourism
Best Management Practices for an agritourism business include:
- Providing an authentic farm or ranch experience
- Providing an educational experience
- Providing excellent customer service
- Providing adequate public facilities
- Maintaining a safe and accessible environment
- Creating good community relations
- Planning for your financial future
When starting an agritourism business or assessing your existing operation, consult the available resources and consider the following best management practices:
- Authentic Farm or Ranch Experience An agritourism business can be defined as any person, farm, or corporation actively engaged in the operation, management, or promotion of an agriculturally-related tourism business open to the public. This business provides visitors with an educational experience aside from one that is solely commercial. It is important to keep in mind that your farm/ranch is often the “face of farming and ranching” in your community, region, or state. A product you offer to visitors may be the experience of farm or ranch living. It is also important to understand what aspects of agriculture your local associations (agricultural, tourism, and marketing) emphasize in your region so that you can develop your own niche in coordination with other farms and attractions nearby.
- Educational Experience Farms and ranches can offer an agriculturally-oriented educational experience suitable for different ages. Food and fiber production, land stewardship, and history of agriculture are common topics that visitors enjoy learning about. Another way to diversify your operation and educate guests maybe on-property recreational activities (e.g., fishing, hunting, trail riding, cross-country skiing, or hiking).
- Customer Service This should be an integral part of your business planning. Training your staff to interact with customers in an appropriate way will ensure a safe and high quality experience for customers. It also ensures these customers will return and tell other potential customers about your business.
- Adequate Public Facilities Your farm/ranch needs to have sufficient capacity (staff and infrastructure) to provide basic services such as parking, transportation, signage, customer assistance, education, and roads. In order to maintain a safe and customer friendly business, provision of services and facilities like restrooms becomes necessary.
- Safe and Accessible Environment You should ensure that your property and facilities are maintained and in compliance with zoning, health and environmental regulations. It is useful as well to create a risk management plan for your farm/ranch. In addition, depending on your type of business, consider compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates equal customer access to certain facilities (entrances, exits, and bathrooms).
- Community Relations To create good community relations, it is important to regularly provide opportunities for organized groups and individuals in your community to visit your property (e.g., schools and business associations).
- Planning for your Financial Future Regularly review your business plan and appropriately add value (price) to all farm/ranch services, products, and experiences in order to provide for the long-term sustainability of your business.
Source: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center; Iowa State University