Debbie Sauvé, Cambrian college Journalism Student
iversifying cottages and resorts to increase income, starts with maximizing what you have through renovations, and then providing a variety of packages, Ken Turner, owner and operator of Woodland Echoes Cottage Resort said.
According to Turner, it is difficult to survive as an outfitter unless there is change and you evolve. “In the beginning, when my resort was bringing in very little money it made it very difficult to survive, so we had to change and we had to begin to evolve,” Turner said. “One of the first things that we did was looked at the cottages and buildings that we had and, not having a lot of money, we had to maximize what we could get out of the buildings. To do that, we had to renovate.”
The first step to renovating, the resort owner continued, is to hire a consultant or get a friend to look at the property through the eyes of a customer to pick out the things that are unattractive. “When someone looks at your property like a customer, they often pick out things that really cost nothing to fix, but enhance the property,” Turner said.
Some of the things that he suggested to visually enhance your property are to remove tires from docks and put simple painted shutters on cottage buildings. According to Turner, when your property becomes more visually pleasing you can raise rates to eventually diversify your business with the disposable income it generates. “You have to enhance the property to make it look good because the basis of this whole thing is to raise your rates to make a profit,” Turner said.
Another renovation idea that he had was to look at the interiors of the buildings on your property and try to improve them one at a time. He suggested adding new curtains, beds and fridges, for example. The reason that you want to renovate the buildings, he said, is so you can charge premiums for the deluxe cottages.
“There is a significant difference in the price of a deluxe cottage and a standard cottage, but we have no trouble selling the deluxe cottage,” Turner said. “We now have a resort where we can ensure our guests quality of experience.”
The other side of maximizing profits is to diversify the activities and packages that you offer at your resort. This can be done in two ways. One way it can be done is by making your business entirely capable of offering certain activities, like wedding planning. Another way it can be done is by entering in a partnership with other businesses in the same geographical area your resort is in.
“If you are going to diversify your business on your own, attempt to do it in a niche market,” Turner said.
Wedding planning is the niche market that Turner’s resort has diversified their business with. They also offer honeymoon packages as an add-on to this.
The types of activities that Woodland Echoes Cottage Resort offers in partnership with other businesses are horseback riding, dog sledding, snowmobiling and golf. How this works is, Turner does the bookings and sends the people to the other business. From this, he profits a portion of the customers user fee, but more importantly, provides the accommodation for the customer at his resort.
“I don’t really care about the money that I get for doing the bookings, what I really want is the accommodations,” he said. “I sell the accommodation and my partners get the customer for dog sledding or whatever, for the day. The partnerships have worked out remarkably well for us.” Turner advises that outfitters keep the activities they already have, but add on to that with packages that apply to a variety of different markets through in or out of business activities for their customers.
“Diversifying your business is easy, but you have to start small with cost-friendly renovations and then work into offering packages that apply for different markets,” Turner said. “Eventually you will realize the profits of these actions.”
This article was taken from page 16 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, May/June 2003 Issue