When it comes to reaching your target audience in novel ways, it pays to be creative. As a business owner, there’s a very limited window when it comes to attracting current and new customers without sounding too aggressive or pushy. Sometimes your business plan actually paves the way into innovations within your brand and how you can gain new customers, followers, and friends.
We sit down with Allan Wright, founder of Zephyr Adventures, which started in 1997 as an active tour company and successfully added a business segment that became the organizer of a privately-owned niche lifestyle blogger conference. Wright was the first organizer of any wine and beer blogger conference in the U.S. and has continued to promote niche blogger events for industry professionals. This year alone, he will host six wine, international food, beer, and fitness and health blogger conference in the U.S. and London.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL ADVENTURES
Wright has a background in international business and entrepreneurship and decided to create a company that surrounded his own interests: being active, traveling internationally and attending social gatherings. He created Zephyr Adventures to run active tours around the world. “Instead of visiting a wine region on a bus, we’re actually going to these communities and hiking and biking in and around these vineyards,” Wright says.
When Wright looked at the industry four years ago, there wasn’t an organized community among wine bloggers and he realized this niche should have an annual conference. “We decided we could organize the conferences and then tell writers about Zephyr Adventures. Very quickly, I realized this idea was larger than just marketing Zephyr’s tours to bloggers and that it was going to be its own idea in and of itself,” Wright continues. He organized the first wine blogger conference in 2008 with 170 attendees and realized it could stand alone on its own.
DIVING INTO LOCAL CULTURES
If you’ve ever wanted to hike the Inca Trail, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, or go on a biking tour in Provence, Zephyr Adventures is the way to go. “We’ve got a six-day food, wine and biking tour in Provence, France where you can travel with a group. We arrange local transportation, hotel and meals while also renting out bikes and providing travel guides and support,” Wright says. The specialty of what Zephyr does is focused on food, wine and biking.
For example, one day travelers will wake up, bike to a honey bee farm, goat cheese farm, winery, olive oil distillery and pig farm and purchase items before convening at a local farm for an amazing feast. “It’s all about getting active and going into local culture,” he continues.
“We cater to adventurous travelers who appreciate local culture and enjoy group aspects of exploration, but don’t require the five-star luxury experience,” Wright says. “When someone is out there biking alone, that’s when the best adventures happen. That’s when the memories are made, when you get lost, or you ask directions from a local, or stop at a café and watch passersby. You don’t forget those weekend.”
Wright also believes that the worst thing a company can do when entering into the social media world is to create a Facebook or Twitter page and doing nothing with it. “Don’t engage in social media unless you have all the resources in place to make it beneficial,” he continues.
Companies are continuing to look at bloggers as legitimate sources of communication and go to Wright’s conferences as a way to be in touch with these individuals.
“We’re noticing that companies are allocating their marketing budgets differently and want to be a part of our conferences for a new way to reach their audience,” he continues. “With these companies clearly recognizing bloggers as a legitimate source, it has removed any doubt whether or not blogging and social media are here to stay with as a credible presence.”