Marketing Lessons You Can Take to the Bank


It’s been almost one year since I began writing “Insider Marketing,” Adventure Park Insider’s online marketing column. In that same span of time, the competitive landscape—and therefore, our marketing standards—have grown stiffer for all in the zip line and adventure park world.

You probably aren’t the only zip tour or adventure park in your local market these days—and if you are now, you might not be for long. Between 2014 and 2015, the number of businesses jumped 30 percent across the zip tour industry, with some segments (zip rides and aerial adventure parks) growing even more rapidly.

As more businesses pop up, that means more digital content, making it tougher to elevate your marketing above the rest. Compared to last year, for example, when the average profile had 124 TripAdvisor reviews, that bar now rests closer to 500 reviews.

In addition to creating better content than your competition, it’s important to stay up-to-date on all the new tools and best practices coming to the fore.

Marketing these days is nothing short of a full-time job. Yet, in front of a crowded room at January’s Association for Challenge Course Technology conference in Austin, I asked who in the audience had other responsibilities besides marketing in their organizations. Nearly everyone raised their hands.

What you need, therefore, are straightforward ideas that are broad enough to adapt to the quick pace of change, and actionable enough to point you in a helpful direction. That’s what Insider Marketing offers in our monthly online column. Here, I’ve distilled a year’s worth of conversations with successful zip tours and adventure parks into three nuggets of marketing wisdom to help you thrive in competitive times.

Have Faith in What You Know

With so many different marketing tactics these days, it’s wise to leave certain decisions to an expert. As Lori Pingle of ZipZone Canopy Tours said in regard to AdWords, “I knew a little bit, but I knew enough that I wouldn’t be the smartest one to handle it.” When it comes to complex activities like Google AdWords, you really do get the most bang for your buck when you enlist the help of a professional, whose job it is to work with this tool every day.

But it’s critical to remember that in key aspects of your marketing, you are the expert. You know what’s trending in your industry, and what your customers care about. In these realms, Pingle’s not shy about teaching an outside marketing agency a thing or two.

“We’re in a really unique industry, and it’s important to familiarize your agency,” she says.

Alycia Choroszucha does the same when it comes to social media marketing for Cannonsburg Ski Area. She’s proven to be remarkably effective, especially on Twitter.

“Our goal with social media is to allow people to feel like part of our business, and not just feel like a customer,” she says.

To fine-tune her social media marketing, Choroszucha looked into the preferences of her Twitter followers for guidance. Because Cannonsburg reaches followers between the ages of 15 and 30, she uses humor and ties in current events that would resonate with this demographic, while also highlighting Cannonsburg’s zip line.

“When I’m using Twitter, I’m wondering, ‘What do people actually care about?’” she explains. “I’m really proud of the fact that people write to us and say that we’re so funny on Twitter.”

Don’t take your knowledge for granted, whether you’re working with a marketing partner or planning a campaign yourself. While I recommend you consult marketing resources (either online or in person), always ask yourself, who was the audience in this interaction? What background does this author or person have in the zip line and adventure park industry? Do her recommendations line up with what I know to be true about my customers or competitors? These questions will help you know when to defer to others’ judgment, and when to shine as the expert marketer that you are!

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About Author

Julia Barrero is a contributing columnist for Adventure Park Insider and the head of marketing at Xola, the booking and marketing software that zip lines, adventure parks, and other tour operators. Julia is also the lead writer behind Xola University, a business and marketing blog for tour industry professionals. She claims to have a writer's heart and a scientist's brain, which makes her a natural marketer. She specializes in data analysis for tour and activity companies. Through her blog posts, she hopes to turn tour operators everywhere into Jedi Marketing Masters.

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