Photo Courtesy of Ruby Falls
It’s no surprise that providing customers with the thrills they seek in an efficient, consistent, and memorable manner is not without its unique challenges. It goes without saying that safety is an entirely different ballgame for these businesses than it is for others, but the challenges extend past that. For places that offer experiences like these, it’s important to figure out a way to showcase what you offer in a distinctive and appealing way. “It can be tricky to explain the wide range of experiences we offer,” says Carolina. “We don’t neatly fit in any category like an amusement park, a family entertainment center, a tour outfitter, or an outdoor equipment retailer. Our business includes elements of each of these industries, and it does make our marketing message complex!” To address this, Adventure Sports Innovation uses a lot of imagery and video in their marketing to draw people in with gear they might not have seen before, and they have recently launched a new campaign with the simple but intriguing message of, “Explore Differently.”
Perhaps one of the more universal challenges of being in the business of thrills is the unique staffing that is needed to run the business successfully. As discussed earlier, scare actors are vital to the experience of Dread Hollow, and it’s a niche skillset to hire for. The same could be said for the hiring challenges of Outdoor Adventure Rafting. “We have an extensive training program that not only meets the state requirements, but goes way beyond them,” says Paden. “It can sometimes be difficult to find qualified people who have the time and the willingness to spend eight weekends training to become a guide. This is a very specific skillset, and it takes time to develop.”
Lookout Mountain Flight Park faces a similar dilemma, due to the range of specific work needed to keep the park running smoothly. “We operate on several fronts, including providing a repair shop, tourist-based flights, cabin rentals, and extensive training programs,” Henley tells us. “Learning all of this information can make for a very fast-paced environment in which staff members will need to be sharp on understanding safety protocols and all of our regulations.”
Changing With the Times
One of the keys to maintaining a successful experience-based business over the years is innovating what you offer, and all of these businesses have been sure to do just that. Dread Hollow’s newest addition is the Deliverance Escape Room experience, and Ruby Falls takes care to craft new and fresh scary storylines for Dread Hollow each year. Innovation is, of course, part of Adventure Sports Innovation’s name, and the Molloys regularly upgrade and expand their products as well as design new experiences around them. “In 2021, we added a variety of seated electric scooters to our fleet and launched an on-demand e-scooter rental and repair service – which seemed to be needed in our community – called ChattaScooter,” says Carolina.
Offering a top-notch gliding experience is paramount for the staff at Lookout Mountain Flight Park, and they continue to do so by regularly updating and streamlining their training. “We were able to open up our new and improved paragliding school in 2021, and we now offer a grassy-slope mountain launch for new students and pilots – which offers a new opportunity to do mountain launch paragliding tandems – right next to our main concrete launch pad for hang gliding pilots,” shares Henley. And up on the river, Paden and company have expanded their tubing offerings on the Lower Ocoee, providing customers with an even wider range of water experiences at Outdoor Adventure Rafting.
As long as there are thrill seekers, there will be businesses vying to meet those demands and innovating the thrills they offer along the way. If you’re looking for the particular high that an adrenaline rush can provide, you’re in luck – there are places all across Chattanooga and beyond that are ready and waiting to provide you with what you seek.