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When I was a kid, I loved horses. So the idea of a dude ranch vacation would have been a dream come true for me. However, it probably would have been more of a nightmare for my parents; I expect they imagined sleeping in the dirt and eating beans out of a tin can.
Nowadays, however, dude ranches can be a dream come true for everyone in the family.
“Dude ranches are a great all-inclusive option for travel advisors to offer their family clients, but too often, they are overlooked,” said Richard D’Ambrosio, communications director for the Family Travel Association (FTA). “That's a shame, because they are unique, incredible destinations for families that offer a wide variety of activities that family members of all ages can participate in, with this overarching warm ranch welcome.”
To help spread the news, the FTA recently created a comprehensive dude ranch guide to help agents better understand the types of experiences that these accommodations can provide for families, as well as how they can match clients with the right ranch.
We asked D’Ambrosio to explain why advisors should check out the new FTA dude ranch guide, which is just the first in a series of industry category tools that will be available to agents through the FTA’s new Travel Agent Resource Center.
Future guides will focus on four other industry categories: ocean cruises, river cruises, tour operators and all-inclusive hotels and resorts. D’Ambrosio advises agents to join the FTA to access the guides, as well as to participate in members-only education sessions.
Why did you choose a dude ranch guide as the first industry category tool in your series? We chose creating a dude ranch guide first because there really isn’t a single source of information specifically designed to help travel agents sell dude ranch vacations. Commissionable rates for agents can easily top $10,000 for a family of four for a week, so we wanted to help our agent members focus on this particularly lucrative opportunity.
What makes dude ranches good for family vacations, and why should advisors recommend them to clients? Ranches are a great place for families to experience things they wouldn't ordinarily get to do together, such as ride horses up into the mountains. Children can learn new skills that instill confidence and help them grow, and parents can join them, head off to the spa or simply sit on the porch and read a book. More dude ranches are also broadening their experiences to include activities such as rock-wall climbing or science programs that incorporate the local landscape.
What should advisors know before booking dude ranch vacations? We highly recommend that agents contact other agents who have either visited a dude ranch or who actively sell them to learn from their direct experiences. Different ranches offer different experiences and services, so matching the right client to the right ranch really benefits from working with knowledgeable colleagues. It's also great for advisors to contact ranches they think might be a good fit for clients and form a direct, personal relationship with the owners, marketing and sales teams. These are warm and welcoming people living a lifestyle that they want to share with others, and they are eager to educate agents and find ways to work together to build their respective businesses.
What about clients who may be reluctant to book a dude ranch vacation because they think it will be too rustic for them?The image of dude ranches being dusty and rustic are long since over. Luxury ranches, such Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona, are perfect examples of this, offering five-star chefs, spas and accommodations you would normally find at an exclusive Caribbean resort.The DetailsFamily Travel Associationfamilytravel.org