Crescent Falls, David Thompson Country
There is a lot of information on the importance of experiences in tourism but not a lot on how to actually develop experiences for the outdoors or as an adventure travel operator. Most of the information we’ve found is either focused at the destination level, based on Pine & Gilmore’s retail perspective or designed for cultural and heritage attractions.
Over the years we’ve come up with a few different ways to build our tours, adapting the process as we go and finding new ways that ensure a great experience for the guests and staff. We wanted something that started with purpose to build experiences that are well aligned between our guests, our destinations and us as a company. We also needed something that helped ensure that the small details were taken care of.
A little background…
Before we go into the steps we follow, here’s what we mean by experiential travel, adventure travel and crafting experiences with purpose.
Experiential travel is a collection of memorable activities that create connections with place and people. What is memorable and how connections are made are inherently personal concepts, meaning that we need to have a clear understanding of who we are building the experience for if we are to succeed in creating something that is relevant, engaging and authentic for our guests. Experiential travel has grown and moved beyond a niche market in the last 20 years but has been around for a long time. In many ways, it is the modern art of ancient travel.
Adventure Travel combines nature, culture and activities with a sense of adventure. It often involves some physical or mental exertion and a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone. We see adventure as doing things that are new and different for each of us, doing things that can be a little scary but that also make us curious to explore further.
Crafting experience with purpose is starting with why we exist as a company, what our destination stands for and what motivates our ideal guests. We then focus on our shared values and interests to create experiences that are relevant, engaging and authentic. Once we have this in place, we can put together the details of the adventure using a guiding style that combines:
- a coaching approach to ensure the guests have the technical skills required for the activity;
- an interpretive approach to create a sense of place and connection;
- a safety first approach to create a safe and inclusive environment; with
- sustainable practices, attention to details and great customer service.
From the tour: An Evening on the Farm
Hot chocolate on the ice bubbles
Icefalls on the Cline River Canyon
The Experience Development Process
The goal: Memorable activities that create connections with place and people.
Get to know your ideal guests
Create the connections
Plan for the small details
The first step is to define what you and your destination stands for. This will define the type of experiences that will be authentic and aligned with who you are.
Once you have a good sense of who you are it’s time to look at who you are building the experience for, whether it’s your current market or a new market that shares your values and interests.
Understanding why you are creating the experience, how you will be delivering it and who is the ideal guest gives you the starting point to start putting together the pieces you’ll be showcasing.
Finally it’s time to go through the finer details on how the experience will be delivered, building an authentic itinerary that allows for connections to happen between the guests, people and places.