Challenges in marketing a stay on a horse ranch
A stay on a horse ranch as a complex tourism product is defined like all services by the four key attributes such as intangibility, perishability, inseparability and variability, which have major impact on how the product is marketed and sold. Intangibility is the most important characteristic of a service (Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry, 1985 ; Flipo, 1988 ; Rushton and Carson, 1989; Rust, Zahorik and Keiningham, 1996; Zeithaml and Bitner, 2000; Bebko, 2000). According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of English (1995), intangibility is something "immaterial, impossible to be seen or touched". Selling an intangible product prompts up challenges in marketing. Therefore it is crucial for the horse rancher to improve his selling strategies by dealing with different options such as tangibilization of the product and managing Word-of-Mouth communications. The consumer can't touch, experience or consume the stay on the horse ranch until the purchase is made. Having no ability to go and visit the place before pay, it is just possible to imagine how the holiday will be. According to Bateson (1977) services are "not only physically intangible, but also difficult to grasp". Therefore the tourist feels like they have to make a purchase decision without detailed information about the product. In order to improve the horse ranch' marketing, the owner should try to tangibilize his service to the maximum extent. He can add some pictures of the horse ranch, the rooms and the surrounding on his webpage to achieve tangibilization. Now the consumer has the possibility to see if the holiday on the ranch will satisfy his needs and meet his expectations. Also, the rancher should give a detailed description what the tourist is going to experience if he decided to book the stay on the ranch. Another way to improve tangibilization is giving the customers an option to post reviews on the rancher's webpage. Tourists writing about their experiences on the ranch will help other potential customers with their decision. The rancher should pursue excellent reviews which will improve the rancher's marketing.
Additionally Word-of-Mouth is another big factor for successful marketing. The ranch owner wants the client to experience a good holiday on his horse ranch. If a customer is absolutely fascinated and the horse ranch serves all his needs and expectations, he probably will tell other people about his stay. According to Nielsen (2011), 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family more than other forms of advertisement. Due to the communication between the consumer and his acquaintances, the stay on the horse ranch is indirectly advertised which is essential for the ranch owner. Tourism products are perishable, which means you can't store them for later usage. The ranch owner can't add or eliminate rooms for high or low demand periods. Consequently, the horse rancher has to control supply and demand by offering different services, using pricing strategies and creating incentives for off-peak season. At first, providing different services to cover all costumer needs is important to stimulate the demand. The rancher offers accommodation, food, riding lessons and other different exercises. Depending on where the ranch is placed, the surrounding can have a big effect on the demand as well. Secondly, it is important to control supply and demand with using pricing strategies. Using pricing strategies is crucial to manage peak season and survive off peak season. The rancher has to lower the price for off peak season in order to get the chance of having as many tourists as in peak season. As a result he is able to cover his capacities which means filling out his rooms. Unused capacity can't be stored for future use or sale so if a room in the Ranch is empty, the owner will a loss. Therefore it is essential to use pricing strategies. Thirdly, the rancher can also use different incentives to attract customers in off peak season. He should increase his promotion and also advertise different possibilities. So if the ranch is offering horse rides in summer through lakes or on beaches, he can offer snow rides in winter.
Another key attribute of the tourism product is inseparability. This characteristic means, that production and consumption is at the same time and the same place. Therefore the provider and the customer themselves are a part of the service. In order to ensure an awesome holiday for the costumer, the rancher has to improve interactions between himself and the customer as well as the customer-customer interactions. Improving his interactions with the customer, he can add a telephone number onto his webpage to give the customer the possibility of contacting him. It is also important to make sure that the guest feels comfortable at the ranch, so he can have an early morning talk with each of them. Customer - customer interactions can be enhanced by offering little game nights for all the consumers. Clients now have the opportunity to get to know each other and in conclusion the interactions help establishing good surrounding conditions.
The quality of services is likely to vary, because parts like provider, location and timing plays an important role. The quality of a stay on a horse ranch as a complex tourism product varies each time the product is produced and consumed. Different staff and different tourists influence the consumer tremendously in his holiday experience. In order to ensure a constant high rate of visitors, the rancher should put a lot of effort in demonstrating consistency and professionalism by offering personnel advance training, establishing standard procedures and checklists. Staff always play an important role in the quality a service provides. Offering further training for his staff increases the quality of their work and therefore the quality of the ranch. For example the rancher could offer riding lessons for the groomers. Furthermore, establishing standard procedures and creating checklists is essential for a good quality of the service. Therefore the rancher should include a monthly check in the rooms, the stalls and the kitchen to ensure that everything goes well. Additionally, he should hire room attendants and have a professional cleaning once a while.
All in all the four attributes intangibility, perishability, inseparability and variability create challenges in marketing and selling a stay on a horse ranch. The merchant has different options to increase the success of marketing his service product. Using this options and paying attention to the four key attributes will help him to manage successful his marketing.