Last month, my brother, cousin and I batched it for a weekend mountain biking adventure in Tsali, NC. Tsali is arguably one of the best mountain biking meccas certainly in Western, NC and perhaps the region.

Originally, we were going to go all out and camp for three nights but decided to find nearby accommodations instead. And what a good decision it was considering the 8 inches of rain we experienced nearly all Thursday evening and Friday morning. The rain did make for a muddy first day of riding bliss!

Now, to be perfectly honest, when I first lay eyes on the place that I would call my home for 3 days, I was concerned to say the least. Upon first observation from the outside, it reminded me of some of the shelters I have slept in on the AT. I was imagining how many mice and other critters I might have to share my food with during my stay. But, after a very friendly front desk check-in reception with the owner – Jim Freeman and moving my things into the very rustic “no frills” cabin, I was pleasantly surprised just how clean and comfortable it was.

The 2 bedrooms, 1 bath cabin was very basic from the 19″ TV to the dorm-room-like small kitchen appliances. Apparently the log structure was built back in the ’50’s from reclaimed logs that were over 100 years old. So, the walls were somewhat leaning and the floors were slightly sagging in some areas but not likely to fall down at least for another 100 years, as the construction was solid. The covered front porch equipped with rockers made for some late evening conversation spaces as we relived the day’s epic mountain biking runs.

Needless to say, what do three “dudes” really need to make us comfortable when it comes to a place to eat, sleep and bathe occasionally? The rustic cabin at Freeman’s Motel and Cottages was perfect for us! It was clean and comfortable and the service was friendly. As I was conducting a bit more research for this blog, I was quite impressed by the number of positive reviews mainly from men and some very outdoorsy women there were online! 

Being the digital geek that I am, I found roughly a dozen online directories for Freeman’s, a very outdated website, and a Facebook page with a post from nearly a year ago that still shows the old pool that has recently been filled-in.  Who needs a pool anyway, I guess, when you have Fontana Lake at your doorstep!

 Then I started thinking about how well Jim Freeman knows his clientele or niche. Could Freeman’s completely remodel the historic structures and possibly attract the more discriminating guest? Could they also benefit from an updated website…yes, possibly. Would a social media strategy help create further engagement and therefore exposure…well, yes. But, renovating the motel and cabins with modern fixtures and decor would be a mistake as this would surely change the ambience and increase rates. Why you might ask? No longer would Freeman’s be serving the outdoor adventure seeker on a budget.

 Jim Freeman, I think you are doing just fine. Keep listening and catering to your customer and we will continue to come back year after year for the next great outdoor adventure! What about you? How well do you know your niche? Are your marketing efforts serving the best interest of your customer?