“Priming the pump” for surfers’ guest book

I’ve spent the last week with Las Palmas Surf Camp on Grand Canary island.  Gran Canaria is a beautiful island with spectacularly diverse landscapes, good waves and a chilled out local culture.  I definitely recommend a visit.  “Jordi” Villa is the owner of the surf camp and he started it just last month in September 2012.

Las Palmas Surf Camp

The idea behind a surf camp is straightforward.  It bundles together all the different aspects of taking a surf trip into one easy package: accommodation, lessons, surf board, airport transfers and other equipment like bikes, snorkel gear, and stand-up paddle boards.  All I have to do is show up and enjoy myself (and try to avoid a rock on the beach that sliced open my foot and ended my surfing for the week).

One evening we were looking at his brand new “Surfer Guest Book” and trying to figure out how he could get surfers to start filling it out.  This echoes a very common problem that occurs online as well – no one wants to be the first!  I think the solution is usually to “prime the pump”.  That means you need to get some insiders to write the first few comments.  That way the pages of the book (or the comments in a forum) aren’t completely empty.  I used this same principle recently for a conference I’m running with IBM at IOD.uservoice.com.

Guestbook + Picture

Jordi than came up with a devastatingly simple idea that I think will really improve his “write-in” rate.  He wants to take a polaroid picture of the surfers that come to his surf camp and put the picture on a blank page in the guestbook.  This does two awesome things.  First, it gives each surfer ownership of a particular page because your photo is going to be right there!  Second, it reduces the amount of white space the surfer needs to fill up, making it easier to fill up the page with some comments about the surf trip.

Surf Forest + Surf Cave

Separately, Jordi really understands adding extra value for his customers.  Just running a competent surf camp would probably be sufficient to be successful.  Jordi takes it further.  For example, he plants a tree for every surfer that takes his surf camp in his “Surfer’s Forest”.  On its own, this is a nice sentiment and ties nicely to the eco-friendly vibe surfing has.  However, when you dig a little deeper, you learn that Gran Canaria was heavily deforested during Spanish colonization to provide fuel for sugar mills.  Reforestation isn’t just a gimmick – it is actually quite crucial for this tree-depleted island.

Jordi also offers a trip to a “Surfer’s Cave” up in the mountains.  During a week of surfing it is nice to get a change of pace and explore a different part of the island.  And the mountains are really stunning – check out the view from the cave!

Surf Gran Canaria is all about providing as much value to the surfer as possible in one simple package.  And the picture-guest book idea is effective in its simplicity.  Good luck Jordi!

Posted in Marketing, Social Media, Travel

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