When I was nine years old I went to camp. Camp Wartburg. Terrible name, but that’s what you get with a Lutheran church camp. But Camp Wartburg was important because it was there where I first learned to love the outdoors. It’s where I went on my first night hike, built my first fire and roasted my first marshmallows. I’d already been a reader by that time, and had in fact brought several books along with me in my duffel bag (for some reason Black Beauty comes to mind). Camp Wartburg gets the ultimate credit for what I’m going to talk to you about today. My name is Jill Hinton, and I’m proud to introduce to you the Outdoor Book Club, an all-inclusive, all-women adventure travel company, based on great literature. The OBC, as I like to call it, has a mission to help women who love books discover their inner heroines in the great outdoors. Essentially, I’m going to completely re-contextualize the book club. [PAUSE] We all read books on our couches or in our bathtubs, but when you take a great book - or even a so-so book - and head out to the edge of the wilderness, you discover magic in those pages. And sharing that book – that experience [PAUSE] after a gourmet meal of grilled salmon and chocolate cake baked in orange rinds in the coals of a campfire? [PAUSE] With six of your new best friends? THAT has the power to change lives. [SMILE] Over the next 15 minutes or so I’m going to share a story with you. My story and the story of the Outdoor Book Club. It’s going to be the Cliff Notes version, but it’s a story filled with adventure, thrills and even a little romance. It starts with one of my favorite quotes from the great naturalist and writer John Muir:
So Mr. Muir was on to something here. Even a hundred years ago, people were losing touch with nature, and that’s even more true today. The only place where we can powerfully reconnect with our humanity is in the great outdoors. But inside a book isn’t a bad place either.My research shows that today’s women are driven by a desire for more: more education, more time to nurture themselves and their families, more business success, and more ways to manage their anxiety (not to mention their accumulated wealth). I’m targeting professional women, women who work hard – and play hard. During the week, my ideal client spends her days sending emails, attending meetings, and if she has a family, taking care of them. Weekends aren’t much better - volunteering, attending social events, and if she has kids, sports and birthday parties. Maybe she’ll update her Facebook status in the grocery line, but her one moment of time alone is likely the run she takes first thing in the morning, while everyone else is still asleep.
The solution? Give her the opportunity, even if just for a weekend, to experience a life-changing adventure, packaged as all-inclusive travel tour. And unlike any other tour out there, it’s designed around her favorite book. We will seamlessly coordinate our clients’ entire journey, everything from her gear, to her camping & lodging, gourmet “campfire” meals and specialty services (which might include yoga instruction, photography and more). Women only need to show up with the clothes on their back and hiking boots on their feet.These tours are more than just a vacation – we aim to teach women to trust their instincts, sleep under unfamiliar stars and let imagination to be their guide.
We’re going to have three types of packages – the week-long packages include plenty of physical challenges – primitive camping, mountain biking and more. Bed & Breakfast tours will mostly be long weekends, where the group will hike or bike once or twice a day, plus a specialty class or two.Then we’ll have workshops, which will mostly be free and NOT based on books. We’ll partner with local outdoor retailers, libraries and other organizations. We’ll hold classes such as How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots, Bicycle Maintenance 101, Cooking Over a Campfire, and more.Besides being planned around just a book, we can plan tours around a whole theme. For example, if the book is Marley & Me, a best-selling memoir about a man and his dog, the tour could also include the option to bring along your own dog. Other tour themes might include mother-daughter tours, silent meditation retreats, writer/artist retreats, corporate getaways, and each year, as part of our plan to give back to our community, we’ll offer a tour for a handful women veterans, free of charge.
This slide features a tool from the book Business Model Generation by Osterwalder & Pigneur – it visually maps exactly how the OBC will generate revenue. It starts with my key partners: brand ambassadors. These are women who embody the OBC’s core values: active lifestyle, environmental harmony, community, discovery and power. These women are trained to market selectively to our “tribe.” Participation in the OBC is a badge of honor, and proves participants have both the physical stamina and the intellectual fortitude that others don’t. Our value proposition is our unique experience, a vacation unlike any other. It’s extremely personalized, which means our clients are willing to pay more for the opportunity to combine their twin passions of great books in the great outdoors. There are a few other things worth mentioning on this slide too as it relates to our business model - our key partners will also include bed and breakfasts, tourism councils and specialty retail outlets who would offer discounts on their products that our clients could “try out” during their adventure. And imagine being able to spend a weekend or even week hiking, reading and sitting around the campfire with your favorite author? The key to this business model is a personalized experience - the more personalized it is, the more women are willing to pay. Hemingway in the Florida Keys? Eat, Pray, Love in Indonesia? Twilight in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? Currently my prices start at $400 for a weekend trip and $1800 for a week long package. These trips are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that our clients will want to take with their sisters, mothers and best friends. Our brand will be delivered through branded content on the internet, and women will share their experiences through social media –-- did you know that 40 million more women than men visit Twitter each month? We’ll also publish content related to books and the outdoors, including destination guides, top ten book tips, camping hacks and more. But the real value? That’s delivered in person - through the one-on-one experience of sharing adventures based on great books. And we expect our clients will share their experiences online, where their friends and family can admire their grit and smarts.
Let’s talk about the market size for a moment. The travel tourism market is huge and growing right now -- $263 billion according to a 2012 market study. Women will spend $125 billion on travel this year, and 80% of all travel decisions – like most major purchase decisions – are made by women. On top of that, while there are few statistics that track the number of book clubs around the word, there are plenty of numbers around the publishing industry: The worldwide book industry was forecast to exceed revenue of $90 billion this year. And the anecdotal evidence surrounding the popularity of book clubs is enough to convince authors and publishers to cater to this highly engaged market.
Since our brand is our most important asset, marketing and sales will be key. We’ll need to reach out to key partners, including book stores, book publishers, authors and specialty outdoor suppliers, including boutique running stores and national brands like Patagonia and Athleta. We’ll also need to partner with local and national tourism councils, finding destinations and experiences that fit the needs of our clients. The key to OBC’s marketing success will undoubtedly be effective web marketing and engagement, including search engine optimization and social media. We’ll share photos, video and other media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. Pinterest is an almost perfect medium for sharing photos of exotic destinations, delicious food and books that inspire and engage.We will also build relationships at trade-shows and other live workshops, meetups and events.
There are plenty of tour operators out there catering to women. In fact, there has been a 230% increase in the number of women-only travel companies in the past six years.But the OBC has something that no other travel company has: a focus on books. None of these competitors cater to women who love books, and there are no women-only tours operating in the heart of Michigan’s most breathtaking natural scenery. Additionally, many of these companies that cater to women’s travel target an older demographic - certainly we’ll have tour options that appeal to baby boomers, but primarily we’re targeting Gen X and Y active women, women who are time poor but have money to spend on the things that are important to them.
Currently I’m running the whole show. I’m a seasoned marketer and writer, with over 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and public relations (which is what I have my degree in). I’m also an experienced SEO marketer and social media strategist. I’ve tried to live my life as an adventure, as most clearly demonstrated by my decision to join the Army after my freshman year of college. The natural world has been my home my whole life, as I’ve explored the northern woods of Michigan, rode horses across the wide Oklahoma prairie, paddled the backwaters of the Missouri Ozarks, fished in the lakes of South Korea and camped in the Colorado mountains. But whether I’m home in my easy chair or standing on the shores of Lake Huron gazing up at the stars, I have experienced small and large adventures that allowed me to grow and challenge myself. Now I want to turn that experience into a business that helps other women discover their own inner heroines. I’m actively seeking out a partner - I have a few promising options, but I want to make sure it’s a good fit, both for me and the business, before I commit to anything.
Here are my goals and objectives. I feel these are some fairly conservative – and achievable goals. We plan on increasing sales by 35% after the first two years, maintaining profitable margins on all our services, and focusing heavily on developing mutually-beneficial strategic alliances. And of course, our number one goal is to remain a positive force for good in our client’s lives.
Start-up costs will be financed through my own personal investment and small business loans. Here you can see a breakdown of some of the ways we’ll be spending money – equipment costs will be huge the first year (almost $10,000), but we expect those costs to go down in subsequent years as we work out partnerships with suppliers and partially finance future equipment purchases with the sale of used equipment.I’ll also need money to help with marketing, and to obtain the necessary training (for example, I’d like to attend the National Outdoor Leadership School, and achieve Leave No Trace certification through the Center for Outdoor Ethics).
My first year sales are based on approximately 110 weekend packages and 25 week-long packages over the next 12 months. We expect in subsequent years we’ll see higher sales, especially in Spring, as we fine tune our services and work closely with strategic partners. Also, we expect to supplement the off-season with sales of workshops, ebooks and the “Bonfire Book Club kit,” a very scaled-down version of the OBC that women can purchase and use at home. We’re in the very early planning stages of this project, but we believe it offers an engaging, very scalable product with a great ROI.
Here’s how we expect revenue to increase over the next three years – nine percent in year two, and more than 30 percent in year three. You can read more in the business plan.
Currently we’ve launched the website (outdoorbookclub.org), established a Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest presence, and have begun to populate each of these with relevant content - content that answers our client’s biggest questions – such as “10 ways to stay warm while camping” and “is adventure travel right for me?” I’ve also launched a small monthly hiking “meetup” that takes these trips and condenses them down into a 2-hour hike. I’ve got over 20 participants – and that is with virtually NO advertising. These are all women who found me via either organic web search or through the meetup newsletter. These monthly day hikes are the perfect way for me to experiment with different content and formats, and allows my clients to get a taste of what a weekend or week trip could include. Additionally, we’ve got two trips planned for this summer: One, a biking package set Sleeping Bear Dunes state park (dubbed by GMA as the most beautiful place in America), where we’ll stay at local hotels, and experience TheBhagavadGita. The second package is a primitive camping trip that takes place over a week on Isle Royale, Michigan’s only national park, located in the upper peninsula. We’ll read the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, Wild, which details her hike up the Pacific Crest Trail. We’ll start marketing these trips in early spring.
BUT IT’S NOT REALLY THE END.In the next three to five years the OBC expects to grow by 50 percent and meet its financial goals by following the guidelines outlined in my business plan. We will differentiate ourselves from all other travel tour operators with our “great books in the great outdoors” unique selling proposition. The full funding of this business plan will allow us to successfully launch the company with minimal setbacks while creating a positive experience for our clients. More importantly, it will give us the capability to change the world, one woman at a time. I believe that this practical and conservative plan, along with our unique market position, offers investors a number of opportunities, including the chance to participate in a truly unique business endeavor. You’ll also play a part in creating and developing a positive, life-changing experience in women’s lives, as well as be part of strategic alliances with top-notch fitness companies, outdoors outfitters and booksellers, which lend credibility to our business model. I couldn’t have known all those years ago that good ol’ Camp Wartburg would be the starting place for an adventure that would last way beyond the sing-alongs and after the last flag had been captured. Today I’m asking for $25,000 to help fund this project, which means you get to take part in the journey as well.Cyril Connolly once said “It is only in the country that we can get to know a person or a book.”I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for joining me on this adventure.
Outdoor Book Club pitch presentation
firstname.lastname@example.org / @outdoorbookclub
Outdoor Book Club
Discover your inner heroine.
“ Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized
people are beginning to find out going to the
mountains is going home; that wilderness is a
chapter 1: a
Adventure tours for women, designed
proven business model
Service delivery costs
Web & face-to
chapter 4: sound
• $265 billion adventure
travel tourism industry
• $125 billion – women
will spend on all travel
• $90 billion – worldwide
book industry value
marketing & sales
• Key partners
o Authors, outdoor
• On the web
o SEO/social media
o Valuable content
chapter 6: advantages
• Virtually limitless range
• You only need to read
chapter 7: the
• Michigan tours
We’re the only one in the niche!
20 years of sales & marketing experience
10 years of web marketing experience
Currently searching for partner
chapter 9: goals
• Sales of $135,000 by Y3
• 20% margins on all products/services
• Develop strategic alliances
• Change women’s lives!
first year costs $43,000
ATTA association fee
Michigan Chamber fee
MI tourism assoc fee
first year sales: $92,400