As the skydiving market continues to grow and more dropzones open their doors, finding creative ways to make your DZ stand out from the competition is more important than ever. One simple way to gain a competitive advantage is to add lagniappe to your arsenal of marketing tools.
What is Lagniappe? (pronounced lan-yap)
A Cajun French word often associated with New Orleans, lagniappe is best defined as “a little something extra.” If you've ever checked in at a Hilton DoubleTree Hotel and enjoyed a warm chocolate chip cookie at the front desk, you’ve experienced lagniappe. If you’ve flown Southwest Airlines and checked your bags free of charge, you’ve experienced lagniappe. These “little extras” are not an afterthought, they are an important component of the marketing strategy for companies big and small around the world.
Small Business Strategy: Lagniappe
My parents run an eco-kayaking tour (Antigua Paddles) on a small Caribbean island. Everyday they compete against 98 other companies for the same cruise ship passengers visiting the island for a few hours. The competitive environment is cutthroat, and my family has needed to use some creativity in order to stand out. Over the past few years, TripAdvisor reviews have become the number one source of marketing for businesses in Antigua. In order to trigger lots of 'talk' on TripAdvisor, my parents have made lagniappe a key component of their marketing strategy and it shows: they are currently ranked number 3 out of 100 attractions on the island.
How They Do It - After a fabulous three hour tour combining kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling, guests are offered two unexpected things: a chilled, scented face towel to freshen up and homemade banana bread, baked fresh every morning at 7:00am. Their guests love it. If you take a moment to read some of their TripAdvisor reviews, you'll see just how many people comment on the face towels and banana bread... it's literally like putting the cherry on top of a dessert.
How to Use Lagniappe at Your DZ
Here are a few examples of how you can incorporate lagniappe into your daily operations at the DZ:
1. Free 'ice pops' or freezies. This is an inexpensive gesture that your guests will love while waiting to make their skydives especially during the warm summer months. Kids love this and if you can please impatiently waiting children, parents will love you for it!
2. Complimentary Coffee Mug or Shot Glass - This is a great lagniappe to gift after the skydive. It can be a bit expensive, but there are sources on the web to get some great deals. Check out alibaba.com for the most inexpensive logoed gift ideas.
3. Starbucks Gift Card - If someone leaves a positive review on your Facebook page after their skydive, send them a handwritten thank you note with a free $5 Gift Card to Starbucks or another local coffee shop. If they loved you before, they'll love you even more now! And, added bonus, they’ll probably talk about your unexpected gesture on their social media channels.
4. Discount Fish Bowl - After your guests have made their skydives, have them reach into a fish bowl to draw a ticket for a discount for any merchandise in the store. Discounts range from 5% to 25% off... of course the majority of the tickets will be for 5% off. This is fun for the customer, builds goodwill and it'll encourage guests to think about buying merchandise... everyone loves a deal!
5. Free Reserve Repacks - Reward your licensed skydivers for buying their systems with you instead of going to the big name retailers in the magazines - offer two free reserve repacks when purchasing directly with you.
6. Free Tours for Kids - On a weather hold? Get the kids together and take them to the loft. Allow them to put on a rig, show them the cutaway procedures, teach them where the reserve and main are. As mentioned above, if you can make the kids happy by enhancing their experience, you'll make the parents very happy. The only cost is time.
7. Special Cards - Have your reservations team find out if there are any special occasions with anyone in a group... bachelor parties, birthdays, anniversaries etc. When the individual arrives, surprise them with a special card signed by the staff wishing them a great day in the sky! Executing this is easy - have the staff sign a dozen cards in advance and then have the person taking the reservation, customize it. The recipient will be amazed!
8. Fresh Cookies - This is doable and awesome. Take a page from DoubleTree or Otis Spunkmeyer and offer free cookies to each person after their jump! Good incentive to get people into your store... all you need is a small toaster oven and cookie dough.
9. Personalized Thank You Card for AFF Students - Have AFF instructors fill out personalized cards on a "Jump Well Done" and mail them the same day. Your AFF students will feel encouraged and feel part of the DZ family when they receive their card on Monday.
10. Give Out a Free Beer - Have a bar at your DZ? If so, award your guests with a ticket for a free draft beer or soda. Getting people in the bar after their jump will probably result in some food sales. If you don't have a bar on the DZ, work with a local bar in town...they'd love the extra traffic and your guests will enjoy a cold one at no cost to you!