Feature Article - April 2006
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Tips from the Top

Bringing in business for challenge courses and climbing walls

By Jessica Royer Ocken

A Challenge With a View

Now, of course, if the scenery around your ropes course is more suburb than rainforest, this may not be the option for you. However, if there are vistas worth viewing nearby, you might consider a new element for your course: the zipline tour.

"Ziplines have been around for years, usually as one element on a ropes course, used for the dismount," explains Steve Gustafson, board member for the Professional Ropes Course Association. But rather than just a thrilling conclusion to a session high above the ground, ziplines now are being combined into an attraction all their own.

On the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, Just Live, Inc. offers the only zipline tour in the state.

"Once you leave the ground for the first zip, you don't touch it again until the end [of the tour]," explains Julianne Lester, president and CEO. With an average height of 60 to 70 feet and six separate zipline runs, plus a suspension bridge and other treetop-skimming amenities not for the faint of heart, these tours offer two-and-a-half hours of air time over pine, mango, eucalyptus and bamboo foliage. They also provide an unobstructed view of the surrounding mountains as you fly by above the trees.

As you might expect, this tour is a hot commodity with tourists, but Lester says she gets quite a few fun-seeking locals as well. And, Just Live has found ways to incorporate elements of the zipline into other programming they offer.

"Using elements for multiple services is helpful to our bottom line and makes a lot of sense for a smaller company that is growing," she says.

So get creative. With a little ingenuity, adding some ziplines might create a whole new offering for your ropes course, while enhancing the services you already provide with a new element or a fast-paced reward at the end of the day.