Despite living in Montana, we don’t get out much. So when my cousin landed an internship in Glacier National Park and my aunt planned a long weekend trip in the middle of summer to go visit, I jumped on the opportunity to get out with the kids and show them what nature looks like in real life, as opposed to what they see on the Internet.
I love road trips, camping and hiking, but we ended up doing more driving during our short vacation than intended, so on the last day, we made a last ditch effort to get out of the car and booked a trip on a white water tour. We landed at Glacier Raft Company and despite being hundreds of miles from home without electricity and out of cell-range, I couldn’t help but ponder and apply marketing principles to the company that landed my unplanned business.
Here’s how Glacier Raft Company did it right:
#1 Location location location – The Glacier Raft company was a little bit back from the main road, a little bit behind other businesses right on the road. But, they are still very close to the main entrance to West Glacier Park, where who knows how many hundreds of people drive by every week. Despite being farther back compared to other quaint rustic forest businesses, you can still see their building clearly as you enter the village through the railroad underpass.
#2 Brochure on the outside – I don’t see this much on businesses that rely on local traffic, but as we were waiting for the bus, I saw it there … a small plastic pocket filled with brochures. How perfect! That way, if they get someone walking by outside of office hours, then they still have a chance to sell to them. Which brings me to the third marketing genius …
#3 Making us wait, outside – In fact, it was while we were waiting for the bus that it occurred to me the very careful planning that went into the entire marketing plan for the company. Everybody likes a gathering crowd; it peaks our curiosity. Clients are advised to arrive 30 minutes before the bus leaves. Which we did, because who wants to pay that much money and miss the bus?
Normally I hit the city bus stop 5 to 10 minutes early, and that’s how long it took us to ditch our bags and change our shoes, leaving us standing in the sun for another 20 minutes or so along with dozens of other people also waiting for the bus to take us on our whitewater adventure. We were, in fact, a living billboard. And it worked too … the shop was doubly crowed because of all the walk-in traffic booking for later trips.
#4 Making us walk – What – walk? Actually, it was a nice short walk. The end of the boating trip took us to a bridge over the Moccasin River running through West Glacier village, about two blocks distance from the shop. It was a crowd walking alongside the main road with brightly colored safety jackets and paddles that caught our interest at the beginning of the trip. And I’m sure it entices plenty of other visitors too.
Patrick was our guide. He made sure everyone in the boat got plenty wet. We all had a blast. Next time I’ll plan the trip a little better, but it’ll probably include another river trip.