E-tivity 4: Nina

Catherina and I decided to develop a questionnaire for the German Icelandic horse riders market. With this questionnaire, we aim to investigate the potential demand in the German market and the respective motivations and expectations for a holiday at the Danish horse farm “Ruggård Hay Hotel”.

The questionnaire was created with the online survey program “Surveyxact” and was posted into two Facebook groups of German Icelandic horse riders. In addition, it was sent out to 14 Icelandic Horse Riders Clubs and 21 Icelandic Horse Stables throughout whole Germany via email. Within one and a half weeks, we had a total of 54 respondents who are of different age groups, have different riding experience and are from different towns and cities from all over Germany. Even though 54 respondents are not enough to present representative data, our findings can still show a certain tendency as we definitely found quite explicit and meaningful results. However, a further market research is needed in order to be able to holistically cover the potential of the German Icelandic Horse riding market to visit the Hay Hotel.

One of the key findings is that 85% of respondents are interested in horse holidays in Southern Denmark, primarily for enjoying the Danish nature and their passion for Icelandic horses. As this appears to be quite positive, there is, however, one major problem or challenge that the family would have to face if they decided to additionally focus on the German market. This challenge comprises the fact that 60% of those respondents who are interested in horse holidays in Denmark do not or cannot bring their (own) horses with them. This is a problem or challenge since the family of the Hay Hotel only wants to target horse riders who bring their own horses. According to the questionnaire, main reasons for not bringing own horses are that respondents either do not have an own horse, think that Denmark is too far away for horse holiday or stated that this kind of holiday in Denmark is too expensive (especially due to travel costs). Other findings include that this type of holiday requires too much effort as some horses do not like to be transported or are not able to be transported for a longer time, that horse riders feel too old for such a journey or that they think it is too dangerous for their horses. Instead, 97% of the respondents who do not want to bring their own horses for various reasons stated that they would prefer to rent a horse at the farm.

There are various possible solutions or initiatives of which I would like to present three that might be most suitable to the situation. First of all, the family could decide to focus on the Northern German market only instead of marketing Icelandic horse riders in entire Germany. Thus, they could address both the problems of being “too far away” and “too expensive”.  Even though these problems could not be entirely solved, as also people from Northern Germany would still have a relatively long journey time and a fairly high amount of travel expenses, they could at least reduce it. Moreover, the family could then attract Danish and Northern German horseback riders, who can actually bring their own horses, only and thus would not need to buy extra horses for renting. This would, in turn, also save money or at least avoid extra costs at the beginning. Yet, further market research would be needed as we had not a sufficient amount of answers from people from Northern Germany. Consequently, we cannot say if there really is a strong demand. Up to now, we can just state from our results that there is certain tendency towards this demand.

If the family does not want to market the Northern German area only but wants to attract the entire German market instead, two other solutions may be suitable. These might be even better than the first initiative since our research results have showed that there is a demand (or a tendency towards a demand) for the entire German Icelandic horse rider market. Consequently, implementing one of the following initiatives could help the family to attract a broader target group. The first solution would be to buy additional Icelandic horses that would be lent to the tourists. Consequently, the family could still have their own horses for competition and private use and would thus avoid the danger of lending their valuable show horses. From our perspective, the family has a good basis to take care of additional horses on a permanent basis as they already have enough paddocks, stables, space and the right knowledge. With this solution they could also address horse riders who cannot bring their own horses and would thus definitely solve the previously introduced problem and would additionally attract a broader target group. Yet, further investigation would be needed in order to consider the arising expenses. One example is to make a calculation of how many tourists would need to come in order to cover the costs.

The last solution could be to expand the existing network and to introduce a co-operation with nearby Icelandic riding clubs. This means that the family could rent horses on demand for their tourists from nearby horse riding clubs. This would be relatively easy to plan ahead as tourists could state in advance if they want to rent a horse or can bring their own horse. Thus, the problem of not having an own horse or not being able to bring their own horse would be solved. Yet, we need to find out whether there are any riding clubs in that area that would be willing to cooperate. Moreover, this solution might even be more expensive than the second solution. Again, a detailed calculation is needed in order to find the most suitable solution.

Regarding the business model of the Hay Hotel different changes are possible, depending on which initiatives are chosen. Whereas some elements of the business model like key resources, key activities or the customer relationship are not primarily affected by the proposed initiatives, other elements are. Starting with the customer segment, the main focus would obviously be on Icelandic horse riders. These would come from Denmark and, depending on the chosen initiative, from entire Germany or Northern Germany only. If they decided to focus on Northern Germany, it would be probably easier for the family to individually and directly address them as they would then target a smaller group. If they decided to focus on entire Germany, however, it would then be harder for the family to individually address their target group but they get the chance to attract more customers as they have a broader target group.  Regarding the key partners, solutions two and three would add additional key partners to the business model. These could either be, if possible, Icelandic riding clubs nearby or other riding clubs in the area or, for solution three, Icelandic horse sellers that are private Icelandic horse owners, Icelandic horse breeders or professional horse traders. Another element of the business model that would change is the cost structure or the revenue streams. First there would be investments in additional horses. Moreover, the family would need to include the horse renting from nearby riding clubs or the buying of the horses in their Break Even calculation. Lastly, they would also need to come up with prices for the tourists´ horse renting. Another element that would change is the value or value creation. If the family offered horse renting, they would of course add additional value to their farm. This would then attract a broader target group and might also help to differentiate from competitors and thus gives the family the chance to gain a competitive advantage. The last element of the business model, the channels, are generally affected when entering the German market, no matter if Northern Germany only or entire Germany as additional channels are needed for all three solutions. These include additional channels in the German Icelandic horse market, for instance sending out flyers to German stables or contacting the Icelandic Horse Association in Germany to market the Hay Hotel.

All in all, our research has found out that there is a tendency towards a relatively strong demand in the German Icelandic horse riders market. If the family is able to handle the presented challenge of tourists not being able to bring their own horses, they do not only have the chance to attract an additional target group outside the Danish market but could also, if they decide to rent horses to their guests, offer an additional value which might then help to differentiate from potential competitors.

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