In recent years many have looked into agritourism as a way to make a farm business more profitable, in some cases as a standalone enterprise but often as a secondary business.
"Agritourism can give people another avenue to generate income on their farm, that may not have been on their radar screen before, says North Carolina State University economist Gary Bullen. "I think it is an opportunity for farmers in the right location to consider.
If they are considering it Bullen says they should focus in on identifying their target audience. For example, he asks, are they aiming at adults or school groups? Focusing in that way can help them farmers tailor their agritourist product and save them some time and energy.
Bullen offers these suggestions for potential entrepreneurs to consider as they survey agritourism possibilities:
• Location. The key of real estate sales has long been identified as location, location, location. Well that can be key for bringing in profits to an agritourist enterprise, too, Bullen says. It really boosts agritourism drawing power to be near what he calls a "destination point." That is, if your farm is near a location that tourists are already drawn to, it will be easier for you to entice them to your farm. If you are near the seashore, for example, it can be easier to find people who are looking for things to do on their vacation and draw them to your farm to spend some tourist dollars.
The same can be true for a mountain location. In either case, if you get the word out that you have something interesting for the tourist to buy or do on a vacation, then you're half-way home.
• Consider the competition. However, Bullen notes that even though "competition" often sounds like something to be avoided, but it can sometimes be a good thing. Sometimes a number of businesses selling one class of item, antiques, for example, can establish a drawing power that one antique store alone could never accomplish. If a place becomes known as an "antique center," then, the competition can draw more buyers for everyone."
• Multilayered approach. Bullen suggests that people look into a multi-layered approach in their agritourism business; selling pumpkins may be a good idea, but selling pumpkins at a place where you can also offer pumpkin-target shooting may reinforce and boost the original idea.
* Consider your own personality. Entrepreneurs who have outgoing and fun loving personalities may be able to make a particular business, say a restaurant/dinner theater work for them, while a shy host might not be successful. Consider a business that fits you and your personality.