I have asked myself many times why so many Austrians like to hike. Yes, there are the Alps, but there also are many beautiful nature spots in the United States. Just think of Yosemite which has amazing hikes and yet most people never venture beyond the valley. The answer lies in the incentives and a measure of reduced risk. I think the Austrian incentive for hiking (besides walking and feeling part of nature) is a mountain hut.
I just experienced that myself; after hours and hours of uphill hiking, the thought of a warm soup or cold beer can give you that bit of extra energy you need to make it. Once on top you can sit down and swap stories with other hikers while enjoying food and beverages that you did not have to carry up the hill. It sounds strange but I think people living in Austria are generally in good shape because there are so many restaurants and pubs available, even in remote places.
Counter-intuitive? – Maybe, but I think if we had nice restaurants/pubs along remote places in Forrest Park, that are not necessarily available by car, even more people would choose to explore the beautiful network of trails that is available so close to our city.
Just think of the return policy in American stores – you can return almost anything sometimes, like worn equipment at REI. One would think that such a policy would cut into their profits, but in reality it helps them to boost sales because people can purchase even large-ticket items with the peace of mind that they can return them if they don’t work out.
These are just two examples of how incentives can make a big difference. What incentives appeal most to you….large or small?
By Sandra Augustin, Art Director