Our Guests & Their Journey

Our region appeals to a wide range of visitors. We’re looking for guests who take the time to explore the region, enjoy the adventures we have to offer as a collective and benefit our local communities.

Our guests love to explore and immerse themselves in the places they visit. They are curious and love doing things that are new and different, a little challenging and a whole lot of fun. They’re always up for an adventure.

Adventures off the beaten path where they get to take their time getting a sense of place is why they choose to visit the region. Like us, they believe that the journey is the destination and best enjoyed with like-minded people. After all, adventure is found wherever you look…

Immersing themselves in breathtaking landscapes and connecting with amazing people is well worth the effort. The raw beauty of nature allows them to escape from the day-to-day and enjoy the moment.

While they love to plan and want to see the iconic attractions, they want to understand the destination and explore the lesser-known locations. Their itinerary is a guideline, meant to be changed as they discover new options for adventure.

The Yard at the Nordegg Canteen
Isaac's Falls

They are what Destination Canada refers to as Cultural Explorers or Authentic Experiencers. Travel Alberta refers to them as Curious Adventurers, summing them up as visitors who like to “immerse themselves in the places they travel – leaving time for unplanned encounters and activities that allow them to truly know a destination”.

They are typically 45 to 70+ with a smaller segment of 25 to 35 year olds. Their kids have grown up and are not travelling with them, or they are yet to have kids. The majority are women, especially the booking guest, but international visitors are more likely to travel as a couple. They are college or university educated with a comfortable income and at various stages of their careers as business managers, artists, scientists, public servants or professionals.

We focus on two segments within this group.

Local Explorers

They are curious adventurers who live in Alberta, love to get outside to explore but are not always confident to try new activities or to discover new locations on their own.

Their motivations are almost evenly split between wanting to spend time with friends and family, trying a new activity, exploring a new area and wanting the safety that comes with going out with a guide.

They live in:

  • Central Alberta; and
  • the Calgary and Edmonton regions.

When talking about their adventures, they most often mention:

  1. the activities they experienced;
  2. the comfort of safety with the excitement of managed risk;
  3. the places with breathtaking natural landscapes and interesting characters; and
  4. the social atmosphere.

They like a diversity of options and often visit the region multiple times each year. They do standalone trips, planning different getaways to explore different parts of the region or activities.

They have a good awareness of the province’s history and culture. They enjoy expanding their knowledge while exploring the region.

Curious Adventurers

They live outside of Alberta and for many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. In the winter, Abraham Lake is one of the main reasons they chose to travel to Alberta. In the summer they tend to already be in Alberta, looking for a different kind of Rockies experience than the nearby mountain parks.

Their motivations are primarily to explore a new region, from the iconic spots to the lesser-known locations, and to try new activities.

They live in:

  • Hong Kong and Taiwan;
  • Ontario and BC;
  • United States (West Coast and Eastern Seaboard);
  • United Kingdom; or
  • they have recently moved to Alberta.

When talking about their adventures, they most often mention:

  1. getting lost in the moment in places with breathtaking natural landscapes and interesting characters;
  2. the comfort of safety with the excitement of managed risk;
  3. the local knowledge of their guides and hosts; and
  4. the connection to the region through photography, arts and food.

They are here once and are focused on itineraries that offer a balance of seeing the iconic attractions while going deeper in some areas. Their visit to the region is part of a longer visit to Canada that includes Banff and in the winter Yellowknife for those on a longer trip.

Those spending multiple days in the region enjoy an orientation tour to learn from local guides while exploring further on their own on the other days. They have a flexible itinerary that allows them to incorporate recommendations from locals. Their experience is enriched by the quiet and unstructured time that allows for reflection along the journey.

They have a good awareness of global issues but are not as familiar with the province’s history and culture. Their interest in those areas is mainly in how it shaped the region we know today and how it connects with a global perspective.

– ing vs – ers

A side note on how guests perceive themselves…

It’s easy to assume that if you enjoy hiking, you’re a hiker. After all, simply changing the suffix from – ing to – er seems harmless enough and snowshoer is much quicker to say than “someone who enjoys snowshoeing”. The only thing is that our guests don’t see it that way.

Being a hiker means buying into the lifestyle. Simply because a guest enjoys hiking doesn’t mean it is how they define themselves. When a guest shares our passions it’s easy to recommend gear, tours and places to go. We need to be mindful that it can be harder to relate to someone with a different background, to share our excitement without overwhelming or oversimplifying the explanation.

By focusing on the – ing rather than the – er, we actually take the time to see things from the guest’s perspective. We step away from our own labels to take the time to see how the guests see themselves. This doesn’t only expand the market for our tours and activities, it changes how we create and market our experiences.

Focus on the people enjoying the activity. In the end, there’s not a lot of – ers in the world, but a lot of people wanting new experiences.

Other Visitors to the Region

Given our limited resources, we find it best to keep a narrow focus on markets that are shared between the majority of our partners and visitors who contributes the most to our local visitor economy and community. Other groups play an important role in our region but for now we are only indirectly targeting them.

Keep in mind that guests fall on a continuum and most do not fit exclusively into one category.

Random Campers, ATVs and OHVs

This is a group of visitors who have been enjoying the region for a long time. They are typically from within Alberta, here for a few days at a time and travelling self-contained with everything they need for their stay.

It’s not a market that spends a lot of money locally however, either on food, lodging or activities.

Outdoor Enthusiasts

Another group that has been enjoying the region for a long time is the hikers, climbers and others participating in outdoor activities. They’re the ones who created a buzz for the region in the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

They also enjoy random camping, but usually in a van or tent as a way to spend the night closer to the adventure. They’re focused on the activities they came to do but they’ll spend locally on food and on guides to learn new skills or to explore new areas.

Hotspot Hunters

Our region also appeals to another group of visitors, those that Travel Alberta refers to as Hotspot Hunters.

They’re excited and passionate about travelling, looking for stories to share and making sure that they get to see all the iconic attractions along the way. Travel is a way of life for them and the act of travelling is often more important than gaining a deep understanding of the places they visit.

They want to fill every minute of their itinerary, leaving little to chance to make sure that they see all the iconic locations. They want to make sure that their adventure is worth it and less-than-ideal weather conditions often lead to a negative experience.

The fame of Abraham Lake and nearby waterfalls has a strong appeal for Hotspot Hunters, making it easy to market to them, but the reality of a visit to the region doesn’t always match their expectations. Our lodging, restaurants, guided tours and limited infrastructure appeal to curious adventurers but in general does not match with what Hotspot Hunters look for in their travels.

The best products for hotspot hunters include:

  • Trendier AirBnbs like Coal Cabin and Stix Cabin;
  • Abraham Lake Ice Walks;
  • Better known hikes like Siffleur Falls, Vision Quest and Coliseum Mountain; and
  • Heli-sightseeing tours.


Engaging with the Moments

Moments play an important role in crafting adventures and how guests engage with them is one of the main distinctions between different types of visitors. This is how we find that we can best help our guests enjoy the moments.

Goosebump moments: They want to immerse themselves and get lost in the moment. Our role is to provide them with the setting and tools they need to do just that. Once the scene has been set it’s time to step back and let them take the lead.

Aha moments: They love to learn but they’re not here for a lesson. They want to expand their knowledge in a way that creates connections with their world. Our role is to provide them with those pieces of information that allow them to discover the full picture.

Pride moments: Their motivations are intrinsic. They want to push their own limits and they prefer to try new activities without being compared to others. Our role is to provide the coaching they need while giving them the freedom to try new things.

Connection moments: Sharing their experience with others makes it more meaningful. Our role is to provide opportunities for the guests to get to know each other and set up challenges to be overcome as a team.

The Journey

The adventure is much more than the time visitors spend in the region. We use journey maps and service blueprints a lot when planning our adventures. We love that it brings into perspective the entire experience, from the first interaction through marketing all the way to the guests sharing their adventure afterward. This is a general overview of each step of the journey for curious adventurers and hotspot hunters.

The Guest Journey

Personalizing the Adventure

Asking a few questions and paying attention to a few signals allows us to tailor our marketing and products to Hotspot Hunters. A few of the things we look for when trying to find out if guests are Hotspot Hunters are:

  • Ask about their travel, past adventures and where they are staying. Look for trendy restaurants, hotels and destinations along with frequent but shorter trips.
  • Ask what they are most looking forward to on this tour and how they heard about it. Look for mentions of the iconic attractions, concerns about weather conditions along with recommendations from influencers and celebrity experts.
  • Look for comments about being on a schedule, maximizing their time and looking for the best value.