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Adventure Industry: Value Proposition and Analysis

For the past week trailblazerguide.com ran a poll on the guided adventure industry. We asked the guides to name the top three components on which they base their service offering. For the adventurers who use guides we wanted to know what their top three expectations were on a guided adventure. We placed no limitation on the definition of adventure and voting was open for all. Voters could even add their own answers if they felt the poll was incomplete.

20130528 Risk Profile

Lets kick off with the major findings from this gung-ho shotgun style research project:

  1. Guides offer a safe experience, provided by competent staff on well maintained equipment.
  2. Clients want the same, but also place great importance excitement and post event recollections.
  3. Safety is by consensus the number one factor that drives an adventure guide’s value proposition. Those that commented confirmed this.
  4. Clients want their experience to be safer than we expected. We anticipated a psyche of massive risk taking, leaving safety for the guide to worry about and were taken by surprise!
  5. Guides take slightly bigger risks than their clients, guaranteeing that their adrenaline will flow freely but ensuring their safety at the same time.
  6. Clients have no interest in the legal compliance and insurance of their guides.
  7. Legal compliance and insurance are not high priorities for guides either.

20130528 Guides value proposition

The fact that legality and insurance does not feature high does not mean that the guides don’t care. It simply means that they feel they have much bigger things to worry about. A contributor added camaraderie while the poll was running. Next time it will feature from the start, and the statistics may change a lot at that time.

20130528 client expectations

Of greater concern to guiding is the perception created in the poll that clients don’t care about the legalities and insurance. We feel that this will remain true only as long as they don’t get hurt. To only ask these difficult and uncomfortable conditions after an incident is an integral part of the human condition, and guiding companies should take note of this. Not having protection may result in your doors closing in an instant. On the other hand, an insurance certificate could bring peace of mind to a client: If the actuaries at an insurance company are willing to bet on this guy, then surely his operation must be safe and legit.

Now when you look at the breakdown of the statistics, you have to keep in mind that this is not a representative sample. It would be foolish to assume that we have created a 100% accurate profile of the adventure guides and their clients. What we do have however, is a bit of a view from the other side. Although we will do a little bit of analysis on the data, you are welcome to disagree, and even discount these results. This study will never be published in a Harvard review!

Lets look into the primary question: “Name the top three”. When we look into the data we must remember that only the three highest priorities were counted. It does not mean that another item is unimportant though, just that it is not the most important. Votes were not forced to tick three boxes either. If they felt only one deserved a vote that was also OK.

From the Guide’s poll we had one ‘other’ answer. Our visitor observed a very important component to the value proposition: “A sense of connection with the place and comradeship/friendship with the guide.” Anyone who has guided or that has been on a guided adventure will agree that the bonds formed during the trip can not be described in words. This is an item that will surely find a worthy place in a follow up to this poll. Our apologies for omitting it!

Lets consider the voters for a moment. We have very little demographics on them, but assume that guides and their clients voted on the correct polls and did not contribute on the ‘wrong’ side of the fence! A total of 67 votes were received on from the guides, and 36 from clients. About half of the visitors to the site during this time were from South Africa, so we can expect that the figures leaned heavily towards the South African perspective. The rest of the votes were cast from all over the world, with a strong American contribution.

We felt it important to determine the risk profile of guides and their clients, and separated the options into those that encourage risk taking behaviour, and those that discourage it.

Now you may note that the names on the charts do not compare to the original poll. We searched world wide on the web for single words that could encompass the meaning of each different option, just to make the charts more readable. Please change the words we used in the charts in your mind’s eye if you don’t like the name we gave a specific component. To help you with this exercise, here’s a table of the original items and the words we replaced them with in our wisdom:

Safety: A safe experience

Competence: Guides that are well trained and qualified in the activity on offer

Maintenance: Well maintained equipment

Excitement: The thrill of adrenaline

Recollections: Great memories and ‘war stories’

Compliance: Government registered tour guides

Status: Evidence of achievement (photos/video)

Insurance: Professional insurance

Camaraderie: A sense of connection with the place and comradeship/friendship with the guide.

A big thank you to everyone who voted and especially to those who commented.

Please give me your thoughts on the statistics and analysis. We would love to hear from you, even if your take on the information differs greatly from ours.

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About Franz Fuls

Adventurer Freelance Journalist Photographer Bunny Hugger Engineer January 2014 I depart on a 2,500km eco-expedition called Triwaters Tour. The website link is in my profile. Go check it out.

2 comments on “Adventure Industry: Value Proposition and Analysis

  1. While your findings are really great for the industries you work in. I wonder what responses you had from the winter sports categories.

    I would think that kayaking and rafting or something of that nature would be less heavily dependent on guide certification. I would think that demonstrated experience would be very valuable in that guide service. Experience in all disciplines is definitely a must. At least from a clients perspective. From a business perspective lack of insurance is just asking for a problem. Why push your luck!

    Coming from a snowboarding background, avalanches and winter survival skills are gravely important. Avalanche certifications or at least a very long track record in the area of choice are a must. Very rarely in the winter mountainous environment are victims given a second chance. Flexibility in run choice and terrain options are also very important for winter guides.

    Wish I could be more constructive in the summer action sports categories.

    • Very valuable input afollet2! Don’t underestimate whitewater though, the hazards also have a very real death potential for the ignorant and inexperienced.
      It would be interesting to see how perceptions between summer and winter adventure sports differ! As soon as trailblazerguide.com has a community properly representing both we will do some research on that topic. Thank you for the contribution.

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