We surveyed our drop zone partners to find out what new skydiving operations can do to attract clientele. Here is what operations that grossed a minimum of one million dollars/year had to say about the best & worst trends observed in the industry.
No Rescheduling Costs
Several operations have been known to surcharge customers to re-schedule reservations that were cancelled due to natural forces like weather, airspace mandates, airplane maintenance and more. Some have even gone as far as calling it “weather insurance”!
It’s good practice to deny refunds for any last minute cancellations but to deny someone the ability to reschedule is wrong if they are letting you know far ahead of time. It never hurts to have a concrete cancellation policy listed on your website and to avoid unwarranted charges.
Appropriate Up-Selling Items
Another common practice is adding last minute fees to total costs in the form of equipment upgrades. No I don’t mean champagne or caviar but rather premium gear, gloves (if its cold outside), goggles, & other basic components of an FAA-regulated rig including your back-up parachute!
Needless to say, offer actual upgrades. Go pro rentals, a videographer, food, souvenirs, transportation, etc. Don’t make your customer less likely to leave you a good review on TripAdvisor.
Be Transparent With Altitude
Drop zones, especially in situations where discounts or third-party sales are involved, have been known to jump from 10,000 ft. as opposed to the assumed 13,500 ft. Some owners have claimed to have heard stories about customers only getting to experience 7,500 ft.! Why bank on clients not finding out about it?
Make the flying altitude clear on your website and even offer views into the cockpit and/or dashboard. If you’re going to discount your offerings, do it for the right reasons!
Don’t Offer Your Clients “Maximum Velocity”
This is an interesting one. Talk about shady! And no I don’t mean the grammy-winning lyrical genius but paying more buckaroos to spend less time in the air. By playing on ego, operators have been known to offer “maximum velocity & speed” by making a jump feel faster at the cost of half the time. By making someone jump at a lower altitude and deploy their parachute soon after the jump, the illusion is complete.
Avoid lying to customers for fuel-saving sakes.
Do Not Conceal Your Safety Record
Many drop zones have been known to cut corners with regards to equipment, aircraft maintenance, and overall safety records. Risky maneuver considering a single horrific review can cut bookings for months.
Choose inbound marketing over cost-cutting risky areas of the business. Be sure not to shove your reputation under the rug and be open about your business. If you treat a single bad review as a loss of $10k, is flaking on overhead really consider “cost-cutting”? If you treat a string of lies as a loss of $10k to your goodwill, is shoving facts under the rug a really effective long-term solution?
You might have noticed that the underlying theme is transparency. In a world where we focus on pulling new clients to our website as opposed to pushing sales on the phone, it is your company that is in the spotlight - not just the experience.
In a survey of 100 customers who participated in a jump during 2016, 89% stated that they weighed reviews during purchase. By optimizing your virtual (website), company (brand) and activity experience (services) you can get a way better bang from your buck, per dollar spent.