- Fruits: grapes
- Education and Training: extension, networking, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: agritourism, new enterprise development
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, social capital
Consumer-farmer relationships can be enhanced when the right products and experiences are offered. In the agri-tourism context of Chautauqua-Lake Erie wine region, farmers and other key stakeholders are dependent on one another to provide a total visitor experience. To build these experiences, targeted educational materials (i.e., four narrated PowerPoint lessons that include assessment tools) are created that specify the most appropriate services, products, and marketing efforts to be undertaken, based on analysis of information collected from businesses and visitors. These educational materials are presented in a workshop for Chautauqua-Lake Erie agritourism stakeholders of New York and Pennsylvania. Learning outcomes are measured immediately following the workshop, and an electronic survey measures actions and business improvements made by stakeholders to enhance the consumer experience six months later. The project will strengthen the consumer-farmer relationship and help build consensus among farmers and other agritourism suppliers in order to improve Chautauqua-Lake Erie visitors’ intent to return, to purchase regional farm products (e.g., wine) post visit, and to recommend the Chautauqua-Lake Erie destination to others. Sustainable development within emerging agritourism regions requires cooperation among stakeholders who will be empowered by the educational materials disseminated through extension Web sites and offices. These educational materials are useful in planning individual and partnership initiatives to further maximize the visitor experience of the rural agri-tourism community.
Project objectives from proposal:
Step One: Assessing Experiential Strategies (March 2011 – January 2012)
During the pre-award period, we will continue to collect academic-based and industry-based experience economy and agri-tourism information. This will be used to develop (a) the stakeholder surveys that assess the experience economy strategies used by CLEWT businesses and desired by CLEWT visitors,and (b) the narrated PowerPoint lessons that identify effective strategies for CLEWT businesses. Step One, which focuses on the collection of survey data, includes the following activities:
• Create digital and paper versions of the business and consumer surveys, including scales adapted from a tested instrument (i.e., Oh, Fiore, & Jeong, 2007).
• Pilot the study using a small sample of CLEWT members, additional local (non-CLEWT) farmers, and wine consumers.
• Verify CLEWT member and non-CLEWT farmer contact information.
• Solicit contributions from CLEWT members for use as incentives (prize drawings) for the consumer survey. Collaborators have committed to incentives (See attachments).
• Contact CLEWT members by phone regarding the project as suggested by farm collaborators during project planning stage.
• Refine the business and consumer surveys based on the pilot tests.
• Send the revised electronic survey to business stakeholders.
June –September 2011:
• Train assistant on project tasks.
• Follow up in person with delivery of a paper surveys to increase stakeholder participation as per farmer input during the project planning stage.
• Distribute the electronic surveys to CLEWT consumer database; collect visitor email addresses at Barcelona Harbor Visitors Center and Discovery Grape Center with a netbook if open(laptop computer).
• Send electronic surveys to newly collected visitor emails.
October 2011 – January 2012:
• Analyze survey data using a statistical software package owned by project leader.
Step Two: Developing Narrated PowerPoint Lessons with an Accompanying Extension Publication
(January – April 2012)
A set of four narrated PowerPoint lessons will be developed to help educate farmers and CLEWT businesses about (1) Pine and Gilmore’s four experiential strategies, (2) results of the comparative
assessment of business offerings and consumer preferences, (3) examples of experiential strategies applied to business types (e.g., vineyards, wineries, retail, foodservice, accommodations), and (4) tools to assess the best experiential strategies for individual businesses. The lessons will consist of 60-75 PowerPoint slides containing text, verbal narration, visual examples, reference materials, and links to resources. The narration will also be found in text form in the notes section of each slide. The tools will additionally contain worksheets for assessing current strengths/weaknesses of the business’ experiential offerings and for determining how to build on these strengths. An accompanying extension publication will be developed for those who prefer hard copies.
Step Two activities include:
June 2011-August 2011
• Develop content for Lessons 1, 3, and 4, about experiential strategies, examples of strategies applied to the various business types, and the assessment tool for use by individual businesses, respectively.
• Collect permissions to use illustrative examples taken from Web sites.
• Narrate Lessons 1, 3, and 4.
January 2012-April 2012
• Develop content for Lesson 2, which focuses on results of the comparative assessment of business offerings and consumer preferences.
• Narrate Lesson 2.
• Advertise and promote workshop dates through various databases (CLEREL, CLEWT, Extension offices).
Step Three: Hosting Workshops on Enhancing the Wine Tourism Experience (May 2012)
A workshop will take place at State University of New York Fredonia during the annual Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Grower’s Conference for farmers and other project participants. A follow-up
workshop will take place at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory. Invitations will be emailed to CLEWT members, Laboratory members, as well as posted on Extension and CLEWT web
site, and through regional Extensions offices (e.g. Erie, PA; Jamestown, NY) in order to reach as many regional farmers and wine tourism operators as possible. Workshops will cover the lessons in Step Two. Workshops will increase participants’ knowledge about the power of the collective rural wine tourism experience and their particular role in contributing to visitor’s future intentions.