Diane Van Wyngarden
Community Tourism Specialist
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Previous issues of the Visit Iowa Farms newsletter highlighted the first three steps a business must take to provide excellent service to its customers. The final steps are: step four, Make it SATISFYING, and step five, Make it MEMORABLE.
Step Four: Customers feel more satisfied when you keep them up to date about your new products, sales and events. Choose the communication method that best matches your average customer -- social media, bag inserts, email, or direct mail. Nurture and reward your customer relationships with loyalty programs, such as discounts and surprise offers or gifts.
Step Five: Make yourself stand out from the crowd -- and from online shopping. Make it memorable.
Rev it up! Customers seek more than just your product, which they can probably buy online. Customers today are seeking memorable experiences. The added value of an experience can generates your advantage over online sales.
Here are some of the creative ways Iowa Agritourism businesses are “Making it Memorable!”
- New Day Dairy near Clarksville. Were you born in a barn? Probably not, but you can soon sleep in one. This new business will offer a unique Bed & Breakfast experience attached to a robotic dairy barn. The private bedrooms include a kitchen and dining area, plus a loft with cow-gazing windows. You can snack on ice cream while watching Rita the Robot milking the cows.
- Stam Greenhouse near Oskaloosa offers a colorful backdrop while teaching hands-on classes, including Fantasy Fairy Gardening, Succulent Happiness, and Thinking Outside of the Box–Window Boxes.
- Honey Creek Creamery near Honey Creek and Lucky Star Farm near Iowa City offer contagious laughter, peaceful pastures, and baby goat kisses during their goat yoga classes each spring. No kidding! You can also learn to milk a goat at Honey Creek, or sample goat milk gelato.
- Bloomsbury Farm near Cedar Rapids transports guests via hay wagon to the heart of a cornfield for a candlelit sunset farm-to-table dinner with live music and narrations by chefs and local farmers.
- Living History Farms in Urbandale helps guests step back in time for a taste of history with their choice of themed historic dinners or Victorian teas in one of the museum’s many historic buildings.
- Still Water Fiber Farm near Pleasantville creates a memorable juxtaposition by spinning pure Angora rabbit fur yarn directly from rabbits.
- The Farmer’s Table partners with the Walker Homestead and Winery near Iowa City in offering innovative harvest dinners from locally-grown produce. Their dinners often sell out on the same day as announced.
- Sunrise Bakery near Bonaparte offers Amish home-cooked meals, accompanied with entertainment in the form of knock-knock jokes from the family’s eight children, or a ride in their Amish buggy.
- Tyden Farm No. 6 near Dougherty surprises visitors with their whimsical gardens.
- Frisian Farms Cheese and Tassel Ridge Winery near Leighton delight customers with tastings and educational experiences. Tassel Ridge teaches viticulture as guests ride the grape-mobile through vineyards, while Frisian Farms teaches cheese making. Customers sample unique Gouda flavors and vote for their favorites. Current winners include Peppercorn Ranch and Bloody Mary.
- Sawmill Hollow and the Loess Hills Lavender Farm near Missouri Valley also educate visitors about their products, while serving aronia berry lunches and cookies made from lavender blossoms.
- Mississippi River Distillery in LeClaire offers local foods in liquid form, using only grain grown within 25 miles of the distillery. Their products are hand-bottled and numbered, allowing customers to learn the name of the farmer who produced the grain for each batch of spirits.
- Great River Maple near Garnavillo collaborated with Mississippi River Distillery to create attention-grabbing products for their customers. The distillery uses pure maple syrup to produce their Cody Road Maple Bourbon. Beginning as a limited edition, the maple bourbon was so popular that it is now available year-round. Likewise, the sugar maple farm uses the distillery’s emptied bourbon barrels to add a unique flavor and aroma to their Bourbon Aged Maple Syrup. They believe their customers deserve the memorable pancake breakfast that their bourbon maple syrup provides.
Iowa’s Agritourism businesses are making themselves stand out from the crowd by providing memorable experiences for their customers in new and creative ways. Are you taking the five steps of excellent customer service?
See more information about our Customer Service and Community Tourism Strategies workshops at www.extension.iastate.edu/communities/customer-service
Credit: Photos by Diane Van Wyngarden
- Rabbit on lap: Still Water Fiber Farm creates a memorable juxtaposition by spinning pure Angora rabbit fur yarn directly from rabbits.
- Goat milking: Visitors can learn to milk a goat and sample goat gelato at Honey Creek Creamery.
- Goat on girl: Goat yoga classes produce guest giggles at Lucky Star Farm and Honey Creek Creamery.