Marketing ideas for hunting outfitter?

Discussion in 'Hunting Conventions, Shows & Events' started by ruppell, May 25, 2011.

  1. ruppell

    ruppell AH Member

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    So, I need some advice on marketing my hunting outfit, Ruppell Hunting.

    Now, my situation: I'm 22 years old and have no experience on this field. Ruppell Hunting is my parents' business and over the years they did not really do any marketing (though they're already 16 years in the business) which means no clients other than local PH's that hunt here with their hunters and a few from someone else who have too many.

    Here come I and try to help them, but the budget I have to work with is very, very small. And little of what I do seems to work. I wrote a website, but its hard to get it rated and actually is useless if its not at least on the first 3 pages of google.

    What to do if you do not have any finances to work with? I can not spend any money on something that does not work. And well, I don't really like to work with agents, because I like to know what's going on and manage things myself.

    See, to get somewhere these days one have to have money and the only money I have to work with is that of the bank.
     
  2. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Have you looked at taking a class on marketing in a college or on line?

    You will need to do your research on the internet to see how to get your web to the front of the Google search...it can be done...

     
  3. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Ruppell, I understand you problem pretty well. The best thing is to find a hunter or agent you trust to find you hunters....that is the hard part finding that right person....because there are plenty of con men out there. I noticed you have done a good job marketing on the web....but yes, you need a human contact pushing your business.
     
  4. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Legend

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    I'm not a marketing expert by any means, my work experience is in engineering and we engineers think in a way that makes no sense to the rest of the world. At least that's what my non-engineer friends tell me.

    But if you're looking for cheap ways to market, a few thoughts off the top of my mind:

    Website Forum Participation

    I see you've been a member for about 2 years now, but you only have 16 posts. Participation in this forum will bring about familiarity with not only the "usual crowd" but also with the many members who aren't active participants as well as who knows how many non-member lurkers. When I see a safari operator come on here just to advertise his operation, I don't really have a negative view of him or anything like that, but I don't feel like I've had a chance to get to know him. Now on the other hand there are operators who come here regularly, who give advice, share stories and experiences, those are the gents I kind of get a feeling of knowing. They're the ones I'm going to consider first for my next safari. This only costs you time.


    Giveaway / Group Discount Hunt

    A couple of operators in the last two years, Spiral Horn and HartzView Safaris have held contests to give away hunts. There's no doubt that has attracted a lot of attention to their operations and hopefully they've at least sold a hunt or two to cover that cost. If you don't want to flat out give one away, then consider a discounted group hunt that will at least cover your cost. It may cost you a week in hunting season during which you could be selling a hunt at a profit, but I'm assuming you haven't completely sold out your hunting years else you wouldn't have started this thread.


    Along the same lines, how about a Boddington Group Hunt?

    I see on your website you have Craig Boddington on your front page, which I think is a great thing to do. At least in the U.S. that is going to give you instant credibility with the majority of hunters here. In looking up some information concerning McMillan gun stocks for another member I came across the following hunt they did with Craig: Mozambique Cape Buffalo Safari I can tell you that if I had the opportunity to share a camp with Craig Boddington, I'd be on it as fast as I could. On that note, you may even be able to work it out that he did a show while on this group hunt, either Tracks Across Africa or Hornady's Africa. Nothing but great advertising there.

    Outside of these ideas, I'd say your next step is to hit the winter (U.S. that is) show circuit. Without a doubt the SCI Convention and DSC shows are the biggest and therefore most expensive. But there are many other lesser well known shows that are much less expensive. Indeed you'll have some investment put it into it with the booth cost as well as travel costs, but as they say you sometimes have to spend a dollar to make a dollar.

    Best of luck to you!
     
  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Barend, with no money Phoenix phil has suggested a couple of good ideas.
    Participate in forums, here especially. There are 4000 people viewing this forum. Directly interested, not random Google searchers.
    I have personally had more hits on my profile page on AH than you have posted here.
    Support this one like Leeukop, Spiral Horn and Hartzview have.
    Trade hunting ops for exposure. I actually found two of these supporters long before I ever saw them here on AH. I searched .za sites.
    Get the hunters writing stories about their hunts on your place. Post pictures, get excited.

    Write your own stories, fathers, brothers, sisters, ph's. Get people who have been out and involved telling and talking.
    Be honest and genuinely helpful and your reputation will grow.

    Change your avatar on AH to something distinctive, like your farms logo.
    Join up with a reputable PH close by who is willing to work with you.
    Take the PH course yourself and it will provide you with some good contacts, information and basic background.

    If I can think of anything else I'll drop it in.

    Tell us about your place right here?
    What have you ever hunted yourself?
     
  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Barend, I just went on your site and you sure have a lot of trophies in that gallery with a lot of hunters behind them.
    Strikingly, I actually know one of those hunters behind a kudu in your gallery. I have known him for 18 years and he never mentioned your place by name, I am not sure what that says. I know he had excellent hunts as he related a story about shooting two Hartman's Zebra on one hunt. Get these people to write up a story.
    Email every last one of them and ask for help.
    Collect satisfaction information from each hunter that enters the place.

    The bio of your dad says he has been around for a while. Get his stories or better yet get him on AH and start him talking to people.

    enough....

    Good Luck.
     
  7. ruppell

    ruppell AH Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the insets, guys. Appreciate it.

    Now, I'm going to take this one by one, otherwise I might just confuse myself and you with it.

    Thanks for that suggestion, I've been at university in south africa for 3 years. Books ain't my kind of thing. I learn better 'on the job'. Thanks for sparking the idea of research to the top again.
     
  8. ruppell

    ruppell AH Member

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    PHOENIX PHIL

    We might understand each other, except on the math part of engineering.

    Well, that info is kind of wrong and I don't know how come. (My first post was on 02-21-2011) And was within the first 3 days if not the first after I have joined the forums.

    I don't want to portray an image that I joined just for advertising. I joined because here's some good stories and great people on here and mainly for the interaction. To ask questions like this, to get the best information/ideas and provide our clients with what they want and to improve. I fully understand, I would also go with the known guys, but like you said it takes time.

    I certainly agree, that's a good idea. And I'm thinking of it, but I can't give away too much and I'm not alone on this one, I can't really do what I want. I think that's almost the best publicity one can get.

    That's an idea that came from these forums, so already you guys have made a great inset.

    That's something to think about, unfortunately it's actually been long ago that he's hunted here.

    Hope that I'll be there someday in the future.

    Thanks for the great inset!

    Barend Janse van Rensburg.
     
  9. ruppell

    ruppell AH Member

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    BRICKBURN

    I am going to do my PH examination this year in October. I hope it goes well, then I can start doing a lot more.

    There's a lot such guys that hunted at us I think. Almost all the hunters that have hunted here booked through someone else (African Days) he was overwhelmed and placed them out to other people, like us. My dad guided a lot of other PH's clients as well. That's the only reason I can think why. Ask him next time when you see him, it would be interesting to know.

    I'll try and get stories out of him, but his not really that type of person and to get him on AH, I think I lost that case before it started. He's not the technology type of guy, knows hardly anything about a computer. That's another reason why I do the talking, on the internet/computer at least.

    Give me a day or to to get a story together with all the truths and it will be on here.

    Tanks, Barend.
     
  10. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Ruppell

    I hope you are able to glean a idea or two that will help you move your business forward..

    Just an FYI for you...you about 2 to 3 seconds to get a viewer attention...if your head lines or business card or Google search cannot hold there attention past that brief time you have lost them...:)
     
  11. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Elite

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    Barend,
    The only advise I can give you is, complete your Professional Hunters training and get active. Hunt for an outfitter for a couple of years. This will give you exposure to clients and the safari enviroment and you will get a feel for what is necessary to run a successful operation. You will get insight into the service level that is required for sending your future clients away as happy ones. Happy clients are returning clients . The knowledge that you will gain from hunting for someone will be priceless.

    Best Regards
    Marius Goosen
     
  12. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    So, Berand where are you taking your PH course?
     
  13. ruppell

    ruppell AH Member

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    Marius,
    lots of young guys do it around here and it is a good way to start. At this time I am only trying to help my parents, you see if I can get business running for them it can help me in the long run, but that's not the only reason I do it. I was thinking of working at another hunting operator after I have finished my PH exams, but then another opportunity came my way- I'm starting at a taxidermy in Windhoek on Monday. So I figured I can still do my PH and help my parents with their business while I am working at the taxidermy.
     
  14. ruppell

    ruppell AH Member

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    Well, BRICKBURN the Namibian structures are a bit different. Don't know if you have any knowledge about it? Here it's not an actual course you have to do though there is someone who presents a short course for a few days which costs an awful lot of money which I at the moment do not have.
    We have to write an exam with the ministry of environment and tourism which is quite tough, consisting of 3 papers, law, trophies and environment/wildlife and afterwards do a practical- trophy judging, target shooting, sighting in of rifles, identifying plants and birds and skinning of trophies. After the first time that you are through all this you are only a plain guide who may hunt only on one farm (your own or the one you work at) Then after you have guided a certain amount of hunts or after a certain amount of years you may go through all this once again, same exam papers, but a higher percentage is required and practical once again, this time full mount skinning instead of cape.

    That's the short of it. I might be corrected on some small points though.

    There exist a few exceptions for becoming a PH directly and skip the ordinary guide part. Because my parents own a hunting/guest farm and my dad is a PH I may do it directly. A bit unfair to the other guys I think.

    So, for the next few months it will be hard learning.
     
  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Although dated it shows where the market has been and some changes that have happened.

    Namibia Economist
    Trophy hunting industry marketing challenged by state of global economy
    April 2009

    The main focus of the Namibian trophy hunting industry’s marketing campaigns takes place at dedicated sport hunting conventions in the USA, Europe and Asia annually from January to March. Record numbers of Namibian trophy hunting operators again exhibited at these hunting shows.

    Traditionally international hunting conventions have always been very effective marketing tools for hunting outfitters from all over the world, giving them the opportunity to meet and interact with thousands of potential trophy hunting clients.

    However, based on the feedback received from trophy hunting operators who have recently returned from marketing trips, the prospects for the international safari industry has been negatively affected by the current global economic challenges, with attendance by potential buyers, and therefore also bookings, down drastically at most of the conventions.

    The new general trend for the international trophy hunters, whose financial position still allows them to travel internationally, is to book with very well established and well-known hunting operators, leaving many of the newer exhibitors very disappointed by the lack of interest and business. A number of operators also reported that trophy hunting safaris already booked for the 2009 as well as the 2010 seasons were either cancelled or postponed.

    As recently reported by the CEO of the Namibia Tourism Board, Digu //Naobeb, as well as Jackie Asheeke of FENATA, every indication is that the higher-end of the market will be less affected than the middle and lower ones.
    Air Namibia has already seen a 15% decrease in forward bookings compared to 2008, and since our national airline carries 80% of the tourists travelling via Europe, this will have a significant impact on the trophy hunting industry.

    In the 38 years since the inception of the annual hunting conventions in the USA, these meetings of international hunters have become an integral and essential part of the international safari business.

    The largest trophy hunting organization, Safari Club International (SCI) currently has over 55 000 members and 188 chapters, representing all 50 U.S. states. SCI is also represented internationally in 19 different countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South and North America. Safari Club International is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and promoting wildlife conservation worldwide.

    Safari Club International’s 2009 Hunters Convention in Reno, Nevada, USA experienced far fewer attendees than last year, although 1,100 booths were featured. Namibia is consistently one of the most represented countries at the SCI convention, with 36 outfitters exhibiting at the recent convention. The Namibian Minster of Environment and Tourism, Honourable Nandi-Ndaitwah, spent 3 days at the show attending various meetings with the executive of Safari Club International, as well as interacting with all the Namibian outfitters in their booths.

    Dallas Safari Club, which has almost 4000 members, actively promotes their mission to conserve wildlife and wilderness lands, to educate youth and the general public and to promote and protect the rights and interests of hunters worldwide. The traffic at the convention this year was also reported to be far less than expected. 33 trophy hunting operators represented Namibia.

    The annual German hunting convention, Jagd und Hund in Dortmund, attracted 38 Namibian trophy hunting outfitters. Hunting and outdoor shows held in France, Canada, Scandinavia and Asia attracted good numbers of Namibian trophy hunting outfitters as well, but attendance and also bookings by prospective hunting clients were also much lower than usual.

    Although German speaking countries were traditionally the source of the majority of Namibia’s trophy hunting tourists, the most recent statistics available from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism indicate that German hunters visiting Namibia over a 10 year period increased from 1490 to 1905, whereas the largest increase in the number of trophy hunters is from the United States of America, increasing from 155 to 1516. It is expected that this market will be affected most negatively by the current global economy.

    Over recent years Namibia has become one of the most popular hunting destinations in Southern Africa due to various factors, primarily Namibia’s political stability and the fact that we are a hunter friendly nation. Namibian hunting professionals are internationally recognized as the best trained and ethical in the world.
     
  16. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Everyone can't live on a farm. You have an advantage by living in the country. Sounds like the system just recognizes that reality.

    It sounds like this PH course you describe is very similar to the one in South Africa. (of which I am familiar)

    It will be hard studying.
     
  17. hunting

    hunting AH Enthusiast

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    Barend
    We must all start from the bottom nobody just jump into this very good running business and make lots of money in a day or overnight. Hard work, non stop work that will bring you to your feet. It is going to take time 5 years and maybe more to get to a point you will make money. 18 years back i was in the same boat did not know what to do. Then one day i looked up Houston Safari club i made friends with a guy by the name of Kurt he was on the board of directors in those days , i donated a hunt to HSC until today me and Kurt are very good friends, well i did not sell 45 hunts that year but i got to hunt with two guys that did help me , they went back home spread the word and that got me going. One thing in life you need to remember is to be honest , do strait business , if you hunt with a ph's clients do not and never try to contact those client's without the ph's knowing this, it will put a tag to your name and you will not get rid of that. On the internet try to find hunting clubs send them info regarding your operation every bit will help at the end of the day.
    Keep well and all the best.
    Johan
     
  18. ruppell

    ruppell AH Member

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    BRICKBURN, I am very fortunate to live on a farm and to have so much experience at the hunting business already.

    Thanks for the advice Johan, its of much worth to me.

    To true, it takes a lot of hard work and time. I don't want to make lots of money, 10 hunts in a year will be more than enough!
     
  19. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Only one percent of Namibia's international hunters yourself.... you are motivated :)
     

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