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Resorts don’t need a market, they need a menu.

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Picture in your mind’s eye, if you will, a farmers market and a restaurant.

But instead of the market being outdoors in an empty parking lot, it’s inside the restaurant in plain view of all the patrons. On one wall you see the kitchen, along the other you see bushel baskets filled with vegetables and cheeses and fruits and homemade sauces.

Along comes your waiter, who asks:

“Would you like to order off the menu or from the market tonight?”

He explains that if something isn’t on the menu, you can simply tell the kitchen exactly which ingredients from the market to use to create something else. They’ll provide the ingredients, you decide how they go together.

Given these options, I think it’s safe to say most of us would trust the menu to order something that uses all those ingredients in a combination that’s easier to order and much more likely to be delicious.

A Long List
Go to any open resort in the United States today and you’ll be able to choose from any one of a dozen activities. Things like:

  • Skiing
  • Dining
  • Snowshoeing
  • Tubing
  • Lessons
  • Ice Skating
  • Seeing Non-Resort Sights
  • Swimming

The list, as you know, could go on and on. In the analogy, this is the farmers market. These are the ingredients with which our guests create a vacation.

The problem, however, is that most resorts lack the other element in this story. Resorts lack a menu. They lack a selection of pre-assembled vacations to use as a starting point.

Lesson: Vernal
Last week my family took a trip to Vernal, Utah. You may have never heard of Vernal, but it has a surprisingly long list of things to do including everything from seeing 150,000,000 year old dinosaur bones and museums to arches and petroglyphs.

It has a lot of ingredients. But, it also has these:

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The top row is a series of brochures with the same header at the top: “Day Trip __”. Numbered from 1-12 (8, 9, 10, and 11 were missing) these brochures contained a combination of ingredients that would comfortably fit in one day. Things like:

  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Indian Petroglyphs Dry Fork Canyon
  • Moonshine Arch
  • Vernal Walking Tour

The bottom row contained books with the same content in a different format (as a bundle instead of individually).

These were displayed in the lobby of our hotel and, wouldn’t you know it, we filled our three days in Vernal with three of these days trips.

Like the menu at a restaurant, they had been prepared by the people who knew the ingredients best and knew how to combine those ingredients for the best experience. No guessing, no hoping, no figuring it out on our own, just a simple bridge between wanting a great experience and having a great experience.

Resorts, Take Note
I think resorts would do well to take a page from Vernal’s playbook. You have a million different ways to fill a 2, 3, 4, or 5 day vacation. Right now, it’s a farmers market. The opportunities are endless and the task of assembling a perfect vacation is daunting.

Maybe we need to take all those incredible ingredients at our resort and turn them into a few, delicious combinations before we ask someone to place their order.

This evergreen content could then be distributed with every “4 days for the price of 3″ offer, every brochure geared toward destination travelers, every lodging search for 3+ night, and more.

But it would enable guests to make an easier choice, have more confidence in it, and have a clear path to a great experience. Not a bad combination. Not bad at all.

Published April 12th, 2017 by Gregg Blanchard.