Good anglers know the key to fishing success starts with a solid hookset. From there, the skill lies in keeping the fish on the line all the way to the boat before he’s released to be caught another day.
It’s an analogy that fits well with what one West Virginia resort is trying to do.
"It’s really about getting people to stay more days," said Dave Arnold of Adventure West Virginia Resort. "If we’re ever going to nail this tourism thing in West Virginia, that’s what we’ve all got to be talking about. Snowshoe is trying it too. How can you get people to stay longer?"
Arnold and his colleagues believe they are at least on the right track. Over the course of the last two years, Arnold’s original company, Class VI River Runners has been merged with another well-known whitewater rafting brand The Rivermen. Although the same company owns each, they maintain their identity and the loyal customers that follow them.
Under the Adventure Resort umbrella you’ll find a number of unique brand names, catering to a wide range of outdoor interests. The company has added a zip-line canopy tour in 2009, whitewater rafting remains the anchor product, fishing is now under the long-time brand name of Mountain State Anglers, food service and lodging are also under separate headings.
"It’s all about the brand,” explained Arnold. "A lot of people come for just one activity, they don’t care about the rest. The fishing is a good example of that. Most fishing customers could care less about rafting, they could care less about Treetops Canopy tour. They’re coming just because they like to fish."
Under each individual brand you’ll find marketing power with individualized literature and their own website.
The glue that is linking the new resort idea together is lodging. Arnold compares West Virginia outdoor adventures for a family to a weeklong trip to the beach. The company has added 40-new cabins in the past year, giving those seeking a full adventure experience a place to put down roots for a vacation.
"If you’re really going to be a resort, which we really area now, you have to have lodging,” said Arnold. "And lodging has to be broken down into multiple categories."
Arnold says they have all levels of lodging opportunities from tent camping to rental vacation
One of the rustic cabins at the new Rivermen Campus edition in Fayette County
homes. Tourists can choose a simple tent site, a sleeping only cabin, a cabin with a shower and plumbing, but not other amenities, or a full-sized cabin house with kitchen, bath, washer-dryer, and television. Coming next year the company is working to create mega-luxury, multi-Million dollar homes for weeklong rental.
"When you get people that stay in that kind of property, they generally are staying for a long period of time. They’re staying four-or-five days," said Arnold. "All those people that went to Myrtle Beach last year, we’re hoping they say ‘we did that last year and got lazy and laid around on the beach. Let’s go to West Virginia for the week an adventure resort for hiking, rafting, canopy tour, paintball, go fishing…’ It’s really about getting people to stay more days and we’re really seeing that happen."