Still in its infancy as an industry, agritourism offers visitors a chance to get outdoors, experience life on working agricultural enterprises like a farm or ranch, and learn about sustainable practices. It also expands the revenue opportunities for traditional farming operations.
But the inherent challenges in running a commercial enterprise on agricultural land are immense. Any farm, forest or ranch-based business has to balance the expectations and safety of their customers with the need to preserve the environment and maintain daily agricultural operations.
Then there’s the complex regulatory framework of local, state and federal laws that manage agricultural land – rules that vary by jurisdiction and can sharply limit the scope of agritourism uses and create barriers to entry.
And even if you’re in the clear legally, you’re at the mercy of seasonal fluctuations and weather disruptions.
Yet all of these challenges can be mitigated with effective business planning. It’s an essential piece to secure investments, develop a solid marketing strategy and identify opportunities for new revenue streams.
An agritourism business plan contains much of the same information you’d see for other industries. Here on Bplans, we’ve got a great guide already on how to write a traditional business plan. In this article, we’ll look at how to write a business plan specifically for an agritourism business.
- Thorough market research is essential
Because of the startup costs and unique land use considerations involved in agritourism, it’s crucial to invest significant time in researching your market before getting started.
If you’ve already identified the site of your business, make sure you understand the allowable activities on the property. Checking with the relevant government agencies and documenting that your proposed use meets all the legal requirements will add credibility to your plan.
Conduct your own research in the local and regional tourism industry. Look into seasonal tourism and travel trends, such as visitor numbers at other tourist destinations in the region. Be sure to also note the demographics of the local community to understand their interest in your offerings. Make sure to have a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape. If there are other agritourism operations in the region, what might your differentiators be? This information will help you make informed decisions about whether to move forward, as well as service, pricing, marketing, and partnership strategy.
- Emphasize the Mission in Your Plan
When describing your company in the business plan, you’ll naturally want to document the service offerings, legal structure, ownership, and more.
But succeeding in an industry that exposes the public to nature requires an authentic commitment to environmental stewardship. Your business plan is an opportunity to show that commitment. You can discuss the core values and mission that drive your agritourism venture and how they align with a growing demand for authentic, sustainability-focused travel experiences.
Depending on the type of agritourism venture you plan to start, and the atmosphere you hope to create, you can detail how your business will meet those demands. Will your business cater to an unmet need in an area with limited outdoor experiences? Or will it provide a one-of-a-kind offering in a region already known for nature-based attractions?
These are all factors to take into consideration when crafting your mission statement, and preparing to develop operations and marketing strategies.
- Prepare for Unique Challenges
Operating an agritourism business comes with inherent risks, from weather-related disruptions to economic downturns that reduce tourism activity.
It’s important to identify the potential risks and challenges your business may face and develop contingency plans for addressing them.
Is your land owned or leased? Are your employees part-time, full-time or seasonal? From an operational perspective, you should show an understanding of the staffing, training, facility, maintenance and safety requirements.
In addition, explain how you plan to manage the agricultural side of your business, such as crop production, livestock care, land stewardship, and compliance with relevant regulations and industry best practices. Describe the processes and systems you will use to manage bookings, customer service, event coordination and visitor feedback. Your operations plan should demonstrate that you have a comprehensive understanding of both the tourism and agricultural aspects of your business, and the ability to effectively manage risks.
- Nail Your Go-To-Market Strategy
The marketing and sales strategy section is where you’ll outline how you plan to reach your target audience and promote your agritourism offerings.
Start by identifying your target market segments, such as families, couples, eco-conscious travelers, or educational groups. These are the audiences you’ll tailor your promotional efforts to. Consider outlining content that will showcase your authentic experiences, sustainable practices and educational opportunities.
Discuss your advertising and promotional efforts, emphasizing the most relevant channels to your target market. These might include niche travel websites, eco-tourism forums or local tourism boards. Consider how social media outreach and blogging can promote your business and create partnership opportunities. Also, detail any plans to engage with tour operators, local businesses and other industry partners to create package deals, joint promotions, or referral programs that increase exposure for your business.
Detail any special promotions, discounts, or loyalty programs targeted specifically at agritourism visitors, such as seasonal offers, group discounts, or multi-day packages. Discuss your pricing strategy, ensuring that it reflects the value of the unique experiences offered while remaining competitive within the agritourism market.
Additionally, outline your plans for public relations and media outreach tailored to the agritourism industry. This may include press releases focused on sustainable farming practices, partnerships with eco-friendly publications, or media familiarization trips for travel writers and influencers who specialize in green travel. Describe any community engagement initiatives or corporate social responsibility programs, such as support for local farmers’ markets, conservation efforts, or educational partnerships, which will help raise awareness of your agritourism business and build goodwill among local stakeholders.
- Plan for the Future
Though it’s growing in popularity, agritourism revenue makes up less than 6 percent of all farm-related income, according to recent data.
While business models have been established around offerings like farm stays, educational workshops, farm-to-table dining experiences or seasonal festivals, the regional, the seasonal and regulatory factors we’ve outlined make the success of these offerings far from certain.
Explain in your business plan how you will measure success and make data-driven decisions to adapt and improve your offerings. Outline possibilities for scaling your business over time, including any new products or services, facility upgrades, or additional locations.
Also, consider how you will respond to external threats, from new competitors in your area to economic downturns or poor weather seasons.
Thoroughly researching and planning each aspect of your business will position you to address potential challenges and pivot if you need to adapt your offerings. You’ll need it to ensure you can afford to add a new service, purchase new equipment, host events to promote your business or add employees. A well thought out business plan will also impress potential investors or partners.
Download your free Agritourism business plan template
If you’re ready to start your own agritourism business, you can download our free agritourism business plan template from our library of over 550 sample business plans. Get started today, and see first-hand why businesses that plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t.