I’ve been emailing back and forth with a real expert in rural issues, Kathi Jaworski, and would like to direct you to one of her recent blog posts, Five Mindsets for Tourism Business Innovation.
This exciting post is the basis for her presentation at this year’s Oregon Governer’s Conference on Tourism, and the images that accompany the post can be seen here (http://www.oregontourismconference.com/uploads/FiveMindsetsforTourismBusinessInnovation.pdf).
Here’s what is important about this post for a rural tourism destinations and businesses:
I love her point #2, “Feature Flaws.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in delightful rural communities regretfully dismiss tourism “because they don’t have anything to offer visitors.” If by that they mean that they’re not Disneyland or a cruise, they’re right!
But so many of the things we in rural areas overlook because we have a “flaws” mindset are exactly the things that visitors looking for authentic experiences will love.
Like Tulelake, California’s espresso bar inside the feed and supply.
Like the lack of motels that led to the homestay programs in Scotland and Ireland that could be duplicated in any rural community anywhere in the world.
Using Kathi’s 5 innovation mindsets we can see our towns in a completely different light. And nothing will have changed except our vision!
What supposed flaws so you have in your town that could be considered features?
What asset to you have that might be too small to attract visitors by itself, but paired with another unlikely partner could become an attraction? (Such as: In Kansas, US, a stop at a small town vintage soda shop paired with the hopscotch court on the sidewalk in front of the school.)
What concept could you shrink to create a viable tourism offering? (Such as: A three or four stop agritourism loop around your town as a start to something bigger in the future.)
How could you flip an idea to create a whole new attraction? (Such as: Lack of restaurants? How about enlisting all your local churches in a rotating monthly Saturday night church supper?
How could you push extremes? (Such as: Marketing your uncrowded country roads to cyclists, or winding forested roads to the regional Harley Davidson club.)
Put on your positive thinking attitude and a new innovative mindset and you’ll be surprised at how many good workable ideas you’ll come up with for your rural tourism business and your small town.
Have any great idea to share? Let us hear them.