At the most basic version, the process of developing new adventures consists of planning for the adventure, facilitating the adventure and finally evaluating on the adventure as we look to continuously improve.
This simple approach works great for simple products offered as one-off adventures. Developing adventure tourism products that can be delivered multiple times consistently requires a little more work. The adventure development cycle breaks down the process into smaller components, making sure that all aspects of the adventures are in place.
It’s important to be aware of the process we follow to develop new adventures but the details of how each step works are something that can be learned later, once more experience in adventure tourism is gained.
Plan > Facilitate > Evaluate
At the guide level, the majority of our tours follow itineraries that are set in advance. Our guides are not expected to create new itineraries but rather to be familiar with the plans they will be implementing.
The steps involved for each tour are similar to the process of developing a new adventure. First, we need to be familiar with the itineraries we will be guiding, then we facilitate the tour and finally, we reflect on the tour as a way to continuously improve. This is what the Outdoor Council of Canada refers to as the event cycle.
To help with the planning, each tour has an adventure package that includes all the information needed to facilitate the experience. It includes:
- Adventure Overview
- The itinerary
- Gear and Pre-Tour Checklist
- Risk + Emergency Response Plan
- Maps of the Area
- Story Ideas
This is when the guides take over from the marketing and sales team to bring the adventure to life. The training and itineraries help us get ready for this stage.
Evaluating the adventure is not something that needs to be formal. In most cases, it’s simply a matter of taking some time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.
Reflection is an essential step in continuously improving our tours and our skills as guides. It can take many forms, like journaling or simply taking a few minutes to look back at the day’s adventure to consider what went well and what could be improved upon.
This also includes sharing current conditions with other guides and feedback that can help create a more cohesive experience for our guests.
Build for the guest, not the industry
We think about adventures on a daily basis. We work closely with others in the tourism and outdoor industries. It’s easy to get trapped in the bubble, thinking that our guests have similar experiences to us.
We become indifferent to things we’ve seen before as we chase the high of finding a new adventure to offer. We chase novelty, showcasing the new shiny tour and trying to make sure we capitalize on the latest trends. We confuse novelty with innovation.
There’s a place for offering experiences designed for our industry and media partners. It helps to get the word out, it creates a buzz. Our guests don’t share our background however. We need to remember that what we’ve seen a thousand times is a new adventure for them.
The best example from our tours is fresh snow on evergreen trees. It’s easy to take it for granted, we see it on a regular basis. It’s easy to discount it, after all we’re heading to a gorgeous frozen waterfall down the trail. Most of our guests have never experienced this before. For them, this is the highlight of their adventure. It’s like walking in a Christmas greeting card.
We don’t control when it happens and we can’t promise they’ll get to experience it. What we can do is plan our tours with enough flexibility to allow them to slow down and enjoy the moment.
Remember to see our region through the eyes of our guests, even if it’s something we’re fortunate to experience on a regular basis.