The Rise of Agritourism – Farms as Entertainment Venues


NBC Nightly News recently aired a story on how traditional working farms are making money as entertainment venues to supplement their income. Here's a look at the rise of "Agritourism" and resources for farm owners new to selling tickets.

The Rise of Agritourism

Farm owners are turning to so-called Agritourism to supplement their incomes during these challenging economic times. Old fashioned hayrides and corn mazes, once a casual gathering of neighbors, have become big business. Across the country, there are hundreds of mazes on working farms, open to the public, at last count, more than 23,000 U.S. farms are making extra money from Agritourism, totaling half a billion dollars.

Agritourism is not just corn mazes and hayrides, it includes pumpkin patches, wildly popular zip lines, and even "haunted" attractions at night. Many savvy farm owners are hosting all of the different components of Agritourism simultaneously. The NBC report shows how the farm is selling a general admission ticket to the corn maze and pumpkin patch, but the zip line ride is separate ticket (aka an "up-sell").

Farm owners interested in supplementing their income through Agritourism may find there is more to becoming a tourist attraction than just cutting a maze in the corn field...

Getting Started in Agritourism - Resources for Farm Owners

sell tickets to fall eventsBeing a ticket selling “venue” may not be something a hard working farm owner knows how to do. To help make the transition many states have special Agritourism sections on the official websites.

In Mississippi, the state offers a wealth of information for farm and land owners to get started as a tourist attraction. The State of Mississippi describes the wide spread benefits as:

Agritourism can benefit local economies by drawing consumers to the community, improving the attractiveness of the region as a tourism destination, providing employment opportunities, and increasing visibility and revenues of local businesses and other retail establishments. Agritourism generates approximately $150 million annually in the state and now is one of the fastest growing tourism markets.

Farm owners can review their state's official website for information about becoming an Agritourism destination. The topic may be under the tourism division, not the agricultural division.

At the national level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a comprehensive guide to help farm owners start their journey into Agritourism, including important guidelines for insurance and liability. The USDA is also known for its grant programs and other funding methods some farms may qualify for before embarking upon a new Argitourism venture. The full USDA documentation for getting started in Agritourism is available here (70 page PDF).

Special Note About Ticketing

When considering Agritourism as an additional source of income for your farm, it is important to consider how to go about selling tickets. The NBC report shows a rather sophisticated level of event management and ticketing, but don’t let that be a deterrent - selling tickets is easier than you think.

First, the word Agri- tourism is actually a little bit of a misnomer in the context of ticketed event categories. Opening a farm to the public and charging admission is technically a festival category event, and not a sightseeing tour. Guided tours are usually hourly events where groups of people depart from one place, and the tour guide escorts them to an predetermined end point. Corn mazes, hayrides and haunted attractions are structured like a music festival in an all-day, come one, come all, event format. When choosing a ticketing software, you'll notice the event category distinction is important, as it establishes the available feature lists.

You may be asking, "Why would a small family run corn maze need online ticketing software?" It makes the transition to Agritourism easier and more profitable. Your guests' recommendations to friends may cause an unexpected surge in popularity, which can lead to people waiting in long lines on your property. Without ticketing, long lines that result from a non-ticketed admissions policy may run afoul of the USDA insurance and liability guidelines mentioned earlier. By selling tickets, you can control the number of people enjoying your attractions, keeping everyone safe and happy, with no long lines to worry about.

Selling tickets for even a small venture into the lucrative world of Agritourism will pay dividends later as your “rock concert on the farm” grows in size. When you want to add a new attraction, like a zip line ride, the ticketing software will let you sell that experience as a separate event, apart from the general admission to your property.

ThunderTix Ticketing Software for Agritourism

Whether you are just getting started in Agritourism, or your fun time on the farm is experiencing growing pains from being so popular, the right ticketing software can be a lot of help.

ThunderTix ticketing software has the features you need to sell tickets to a small corn maze or a big rowdy rock concert and everything in between. We take special pride in helping small business owners who are new to ticketing software and our technology is easy to use. We also offer highly acclaimed telephone-based customer service to help you get up and running.

We have many more helpful resources to read, like our "Start Selling Tickets Online" feature page. If you have questions, or are in a hurry to sell event tickets online, you are welcome to contact us and we’ll take care of you right away.

To see ThunderTix ticketing software in use by Agritourism venues, check out Dixie Maze Farm and Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm!

Image source: Wiki Commons