We built the framework specifically for our approach to adventure tourism. It is inspired by our experience and the work of many, often in fields unrelated to adventure tourism.
Our goal with the adventure framework is to bring together all the elements that are needed for the goosebumps moment to happen.
The framework is broken down into three sections:
- the elements that must align to create authentic adventures;
- the building blocks that create the adventure itself; and finally
- the constraints we must consider to ensure that anything we do is sustainable.
We will discuss the framework in more detail in the adventure guide training courses and, as a guide, you will be using it on a regular basis when facilitating our tours. Staff at the Canteen or with Explore Nordegg & Abraham Lake will find that it defines every product and experience that we offer, even if you don’t use it directly yourself on a daily basis.
You’ll also notice as we go through the next section that this is how we organize the details of our culture and brands.
The Adventure Framework
It all starts with the goosebumps moment, the part of the adventure that rises above the everyday, leaving us speechless and in awe. This is the reason why we offer any of the products we offer and is at the core of the framework.
Authentic adventures happen at the intersection where our motivations and those of our guests align with our destination’s sense of place. It’s an essential element of any intentional adventure and part of everything we do.
The easiest way of thinking about authentic adventures is to ask yourself why we should be the ones offering this product, why it should be offered in our region and why our ideal guests would be interested in this product. We’ll discuss who we are, what makes the Nordegg & Abraham Lake region special and who are our ideal guests in the next module.
The Building Blocks
For the goosebumps moment to resonate with our guests we need to find the right combination of activities and storytelling while making sure that we set up a safe environment where the logistics are handled seamlessly.
The activities we choose have the power to transform the experience. Snowshoeing forces us to slow down, sightseeing makes the region more accessible while photography allows us to capture the moment.
The stories we share help give those moments meaning and provide context for the adventure. We use the word story loosely, referring to communication that has the power to draw us in to create an emotional connection with the facts presented.
This requires us to set up a safe environment, physically and emotionally. Going outside of our daily lives is mentally demanding and requires a level of trust between the guest and us.
The logistics cover all the work that’s done behind the scene to create the experience for the guests, the customer service and the small details that have a large impact.
This is the step that makes a collection of activities into a memorable experience. It is our chance to reinforce the memories we made along the way, helping our guests remember their adventure forever.
All the building blocks need to work together for the adventure to be worth doing. We should always be thinking of them in combination rather than on their own: a safe adventure without challenges is boring and the perfect activity poorly planned is a recipe for disaster.
That being said, great execution of each of the building blocks does not necessarily equal a goosebumps moment. We must start by considering what is needed to accomplish the goosebumps moment and then choose the best way to use each of the building blocks toward that purpose.
Viable, Desirable and Feasible
These are the elements that go beyond the specific products. These are mostly handled at the company level but they will often impact how you work so that our operations can be sustainable.
Does it solve a problem for our guests and can it generate a profit or produce the outcomes required to sustain funding?
It’s hard to justify offering a product that loses money. Demand for the product, pricing and expenses are all considered when planning a new product.
All staff can help in this area by ensuring that costs are kept under control, for example by minimizing damage to equipment or using proper portion controls. Another important way you can help is by offering great services to encourage guests to keep coming back.
Does it have a positive impact, or can we minimize negative consequences, on the local community and environment?
A desirable product is one that meets the needs of the guests while having a positive impact, or at least minimizing negative consequences, on the local community and environment.
It also means following our guiding principle that caring for the environment and each other is not a trend, it’s part of living. We use an approach of normalizing actions like reducing idle time on vehicles, using reusable or compostable containers, and following Leave no Trace principles. Our guests notice those things without us having to tell them.
Finally, it means having a positive impact in our community by supporting like-minded organizations, encouraging our guests to further explore the region, making adventures inclusive and accessible while also being mindful of others who are enjoying the places we visit.
We also embrace the fact that anything we do in this regard will be imperfect. The goal is to do the best we can, given our resources and the reality we live in.
Do we have the certifications, permits, insurance and resources needed to deliver the adventure?
In many ways, these are the elements that impact how we approach safety at the company-wide level. These are the legislations, regulations and other requirements that impact how we operate, and as a result how you work.
We won’t go into the details of permits, regulations, insurance and staffing here since they tend to vary across the types of products we offer.