Reflection on early winter ice on Abraham Lake
It’s not the information that has value, it’s how we use it. We’ve benefited a lot over the years from seeing how other businesses, in tourism and elesewhere, operate.
We’ve been sharing our trail guides and recipes for a few years now and have seen tremendous benefits for us and our guests. It provides a free resource for those who just want to go explore on their own. For those who prefer going with a guide, they now have a better understanding of what to expect on the tour. It’s been a win-win situation and we’re now looking at expanding on what we share about the business side of running a tour company.
Sharing information about how we craft experiences, how we set prices, how we train our guides and other parts of the business may seem counterintuitive. The way we see it, collaborating and making information easier to access gives us the tools we need to innovate. Working together we can create better guest experiences and grow our local visitor economy.
Bighorn sheep along Abraham Lake
It’s not always easy to share but we’ve seen the positive results so often, whether it’s sharing our pricing calculation sheets with other operators or behind the scene details with our guests.
Trust: It leads to trust from our customers, partners and staff about what we are doing. Being open about why we offer certain tours or make certain decisions makes challenging situations that much easier.
Innovation: We need to move beyond best practices. Best practices can only get us to second place. By sharing information about what has worked for us, and more importantly about what didn’t work, we can find better ways to move forward. It also allows outsiders to get a better picture of what we’re trying to accomplish, creating conversations that spark new ideas.
Doing the right thing: We’ve learned a lot from others and feel it’s right to share forward.
What about the competition? Crafting outstanding experiences is about much more than logistics and numbers. We’ve seen a number of companies come and go since we started. Some have offered similar activities, but all have had something different to offer visitors to the region.
John Dewey wrote back in 1938 that “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience”. Too often we see adding “hands-on activities” to a tourism product as the way to make them experiential. Creating memorable experiences is about the emotions and connections that are created, it’s about creating moments that allow our guests to reflect on their adventures. Our tours are about more than the information we include in our handbooks, pricing sheets and itineraries.
One of the biggest challenges with transparency is actually finding the time to write the story, to share the information.
Our Next Steps
We’re not ready to be as transparent as Buffer (we love their Open Blog) but there are a few things we’re working on for now.
- Share what we’re working on. Ask others for help and advice.
- Write about what we’ve learned along the way.
- Publish our Experience Map, Guide & Partner Handbook and other details on how we plan itineraries for our guests.
- Turn our internal spreadsheets into publicly available templates that anyone can use and benefit from.
- Look at options to breakdown our pricing like Buffer and Everlane do.
- Make our product development roadmap visible. We’ve done this one already >
- Make our marketing and blog editorial calendars public.
Transparency is about more than just PR or marketing. It’s about raising the bar for all of us. If you find value in what we share then we hope that you’ll also share what you create.
Our goal: help you experience your adventure so that you can discover the region. Here’s what we’re working on to make it happen.
Our goal: inspiring you to play outside and help you experience your adventure so that you can discover the food, people and natural beauty of the region.
A look at two different ways to craft experiences we often come across, each of them appealing to a different type of operators and guests.