Selling Your Routes: Marketing your route setting

The best designer doesn't just create a great product, they sell that product to their customers. For most of us, our customers are the people that climb at our gyms. Commercial route setting is all about creating a memorable climbing experience that keeps people coming back to the gym.

One way to ensure that your routes are appreciated, is to sell them effectively. You might be setting the best routes in the world, but if you're doing so in a small gym among big competition, no-one's going to know about it. These are obvious business principles that are underutilised in the setting world, but people are starting to cotton on. There are a multitude of ways you can implement changes to sell your product - routes and the climbing experience - to your climbers.

Communicate Directly With The Climbers

Perhaps the most fundamental thing you need to be able to do as a setter, is to communicate with your climbers - and I don't just mean chatting to them on the floor in the gym (although this might be part of your strategy). Just ask yourself, if you're climbing in a gym, what sorts of things would you want to know about the routesetting? At a bare minimum, probably the following:

1. Where the new routes are.

2. How often the routes are changed.

3. What the next section of wall to be stripped will be.

4. If any big changes are coming in the setting (changing to circuits/adjusting difficulty bands etc.)

This list isn't exhaustive, and every gym will have differences when it comes to what it is appropriate to communicate to your customers, but it's true everywhere that the more you communicate with the customers, the better understanding and appreciation they will have of what you're trying to achieve in your route setting.

Route Setting Videos

Something that's taking off in a big way at the moment, is route setting videos. That come in many different shapes and sizes, and some seem to be more successful than others. While they are definitely a great idea in general terms, ensure that you do a bit of thinking about the purpose of the videos before you point a camera at the wall and start shooting. Are you trying to communicate something to the customers (ie. where the new routes are), explain particularly obscure beta (a move that might otherwise go unappreciated and thus ignored), or just build hype around some new holds?

Boulder of the Week from Stuntwerk, Germany.

Problem of the Set, Rockspot Climbing, USA.

Better Beta series from Momentum Indoor Climbing, USA.

Routesetting Updates, from Rocksports, Australia.