1 – Build it somewhere unusual.
If a Sky Trail High Ropes Course built onto the deck of a cruise liner isn’t astonishing enough you can now walk the plank over the side of the ship down to the sea 140ft below thanks to the latest installation on the Norwegian Breakaway cruise liner. Not high or terrifying enough for you? Okay how about suspending part of the Sky Trail course over the edge of a 600ft cliff face with nothing between you and the cavern floor below except for a great piece of Sky Trail engineering? Cave of the Winds in Colorado did just that.
A Sky Trail High Ropes Course is a unique and attention grabbing attraction in itself but locations like these add an extra dose of fear and excitement for participants. It’s this added dimension that makes for a truly unique course that will be pulling visitors in from miles around. Tops of buildings, ends of piers, across spans and gaps or even a location that offers stunning views all add to the Sky Trail experience.
2 – Theme it up.
So you’ve decided on the style, size and even colours of your new Sky Trail High Ropes Course but what else can you do to catch the eye and draw people’s attention. Well, one way is to theme it so it either ties in with other attractions on your site, with the local surroundings or so it creates its own uniquely themed area. We have standard themes we can offer that tie into a number of different areas including ‘Pirate’ complete with sails, crow’s nests and walk the plank features as seen at Clarence Pier. Or how about the jungle theme that Edinburgh Zoochose in order to make the monkeys in the adjacent closure feel at home. You could even go all out like they have at Dollywood (where the message is definitely bigger is better) where they’ve created Adventure Mountain, a thrilling setting for their Sky Trail which includes water geysers, cliff ledge features and a bell at the top level so successful participants can let everyone know of their achievements in reaching the top.
3 – Don’t exclude the young ones.
There’s nothing worse when out as a family than finding the youngest members excluded from taking part in fun activities because they don’t quite meet the minimum height requirements. Tears, tantrums and disappointment cloud the day. Well we don’t think that should be the way and we’re sure as an operator you don’t want that either. That’s where Sky Tykes comes in. A low level ropes course that’s designed specifically to cater to children from two to seven years old a give them a taste of the experience the older kids will be getting on the main Sky Trail Course. With the elements hung at just a metre off the ground it allows parents to walk alongside youngsters and assist and encourage them during their adventure. Sky Tykes courses can be incorporated underneath the main Sky Trail High Ropes Courses at ground level creating an attraction the whole family can enjoy.
4 – Employ great staff.
Staff play a significant part in the Sky Trail customer experience. Whilst many participants may see the harnessing and safety briefing as a boring necessity great staff can really turn these important processes into part of the overall experience heightening the sense of anticipation and tension before people make their way up to the first level of elements. Outgoing, enthusiastic and of course suitably trained staff help to create excitement and make customers feel safe and confident when tackling the course. A great experience can be made fantastic by employing the right type of staff and a fantastic experience is something that is likely to not only get customers coming back again but also recommending it to other people.
5 – Get local schools to use it as part of their outdoor education programmes
Outdoor education has long been a part of the Physical Education curriculum and is seen as a great tool that not only engages children in physical activity but also helps develop important personal and social skills such as determination, confidence, problem solving and the ability to overcome challenges. Organisations such as the Outward Bound Trust have been offering residential courses for school groups for more than sixty years but these types of excursions aren’t available to all schools or pupils due to the commitment and costs involved. But why should only the lucky few have the chance to experience adventure as part of their education? A Sky Trail High Ropes Course could offer a great way for local schools to give pupils a taster of outdoor adventure activities without the need for week long residential trips. By approaching schools in your region and offering them a local facility to which they could bring small groups cheaply and easily you could soon find those quiet mid-week hours filled with young people getting the challenging and adventurous outdoor learning the curriculum requires them to have.
6 – Run corporate team building days.
That dreaded term, ‘Team Building Exercises’. In my experience that normally involves some pseudo stag weekend type activity like a bit of paintballing or go-karting. The problem with that is most people have done these types of things before so they are neither that exciting or really designed to get people talking to each other and working together. You’ll know what I mean by that if you’ve ever tried to have a conversation in a full face helmet or paintball mask.
Get them together on the Sky Trail High Ropes Course however and you’ve got an activity that isn’t too physically demanding, isn’t something most people will have done before and allows you to create team and individual challenges that are entertaining as well as rewarding and will get people interacting by encouraging, assisting and probably laughing at each other. It’s these shared experiences that really get people bonding and if it’s fun then the client has got that little moral boost they wanted. As with inviting schools this can all be happening during the day in the working week when normally the Sky Trail would be at its quietest.
7 – Host a charity event.
In tough economic times charities are feeling the pinch as we’re all watching every penny in our pockets. As donations dwindle and the Financial Times reporting a drop of over 15% in donations during 2011/12, charities are having to find unique, interesting and innovative ways to try and make up the shortfall. Just as you can set team or individual challenges for corporate team building exercises you could do the same as part of a local charity fund raising initiative through charging a donation to the charity for teams or individuals to enter with a prize on offer for the winner. Whilst this might not be making you any money directly you may see some benefit from people using other facilities on your site like food and beverage outlets and perhaps even some local press coverage as a result of hosting a successful event. Ultimately though you’ll get that wonderful feeling from supporting charities that really matter to you.
8 – Organise a media day.
So you’ve installed your Sky Trail High Ropes Course, built it into your website, done some local advertising and started approaching local schools, companies and charities to get them down, but what else can you do to promote your new attraction. Well instead of telling people about it yourself why not invite the local press down to try it out for themselves and have them tell everyone about it? And not just the local paper, why not someone from the local tourist organisation, local events listings websites and even local magazines too. With all the media channels accessible today people will see these great reviews and articles in print, on websites or have it Tweeted to them and all for no charge to you.
9 – Don’t close it just because it’s dark.
I have to admit we stole this idea from Planters Garden Centre who installed their Sky Trail High Ropes Course in June 2012. As the summer faded into Autumn and Winter and daylight hours dwindled they came up with the ingenious idea of hosting torch lit evenings where customers could come and try and navigate the course by torchlight. We thought this was a great idea to help keep those return customers coming back by offering a completely different experience and challenge to the one they’ve previously tried despite being the same course. Planters, we salute your ingenuity.
10 – Call the fire brigade. (*Don’t actually ring 999)
Part of the training we provide your staff includes the emergency take down procedure should someone become incapacitated on the course. It’s extremely rare that staff ever need to use it in real life but it’s a vital part of the training and something they rehearse regularly. Both here in the UK and in the USA we’re aware of local fire departments that have approached Sky Trail High Ropes Course operators to request to use the course to hone their skills as the equipment offers them a unique platform on which to practise their potentially life saving skills.
So there you have it, ten great ways to get the most from your Sky Trail High Ropes Course. Not got a Sky Trail already but would now really like one? Contact Innovative Leisure to find out more information.
Written by Neil Hannam – Part of the Innovative Leisure Marketing Team