Mountain Marketplace

Mountains are market places…

Cairngorm Summit

… and there is plenty of opportunity for business to do well in areas like this one – the Cairngorms of Scotland.

Especially when (unlike many seaside resorts) visitors turn up in good numbers, summer and winter.

At The Summit

This picture was taken at the summit of Cairn Gorm (a Munro at 1,245m or 4,084 ft). It’s a popular mountain. For the hiker there are several walking routes up. For those who like the easy way up, there’s a funicular which takes you part way there (though ‘the rules’ say you have to join a guided walk to reach the plateau).

The steep-tracked railway, the restaurant at the top station and the ski centre all illustrate the power of positioning. Geographical positioning and business positioning.

The railway journey is short but not cheap. An adult day ticket is almost £14. The journey down is just over a tenner. If you want the service you have to pay for it. I’m sure the price could be put up to nearer £20 and many people would still hand over their card or cash.

The Ptarmigan Restaurant rests about 600 ft below the Cairn Gorm summit. It lies on one of the most popular routes down the mountain. Thus, it’s a perfect rest stop for walkers and funicular passengers, alike.

You would think this might ramp up the drinks and menu prices – but they’re actually quite reasonable.

A Panoramic View

And the views of Loch Morlich and the surrounding landscape from the viewing terrace are worth the price of a drink or a snack many times over. On a clear day, the panorama from the mountain is something special.

And the ski centre?

Well, it’s obviously busy in the winter and spring with skiers and snowboarders (snow can still be plentiful on the slopes in April and beyond). But it’s busy with walkers, climbers and visitors, too. And not just in the height of summer.

The centre makes money from parking charges (which, again, felt very reasonable). It makes money from the sports activities, instruction and guiding offered.

The resort cannot be complacent, however. Because there is snow on the continent – and flights to the Alps and other mountain regions of Europe are cheaper than ever.

There are plenty of other attractions besides the mountain and neighbouring mountains, including Scotland’s second highest, Ben Macdui.

Dotted below the resort are a series of car parks, each connecting with walking routes.

Further down the valley one can choose from a range of activities and attractions in this region.

A Big Range to Choose From

Castles. Museums. Breweries. Distilleries. A steam railway. Parks. Forests. Lakes. Mountain biking. Cycling. Kayaking. Canoeing. Canyoning. And more.

A focal point for much of it is the town of Aviemore.

It’s not the prettiest place. But it always seems busy. It’s geared up for the tourist, traveller and outdoor enthusiast.

You might not think it from first view but there are more than 40 hotels and guest house in the area. It does not look as if any are in the town centre itself. There might be. They’re just not obvious.

Instead, the main street through the town is cluttered with outdoors shops, cafes, low-end eateries and gift shops.

There is plenty of pedestrian traffic.

The Trick is This…

The trick for the local businesses is to attract the footfall. Get people in through the door.

The outdoor and mountain gear shops have no problems drawing in the casual browser. The challenge for them is to get people to buy.

One store has the advantage of having an upstairs cafe with terrace seating. The cafe always seems very popular (I’ve never yet managed to get a seat) so it’s probably making good money. Which is good, because the store itself seems one of the priciest.

There’s no obvious up-market cafe, bistro or restaurant here. This reflects the type of visitor Aviemore receives. Business responds to the market, to the audience. Most cafes look budget bracket. I didn’t find much quality and therefore even the so-called ‘cheap’ prices did not give me as much value as it should have.

It’s not just about taking people’s money. You need to ensure your product or service matches the buyer’s expectations.

And to get people in there are many ways to go for.

Your website. Social media ads. Retargeting. Review sites like Trip Advisor and TrustPilot. A-boards outside the store, shop or cafe. Window displays. Promotions and sales posters. Flyers.

And that most powerful of all…

… Personal recommendations from friends, family or locals.

Aviemore attracts the short-break audience and the day tripper. My sense is local businesses could do more to draw people in and give them more reason to try, buy and return again.

There’s a mini-mountain of money to be made.

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