Tomorrow morning I drive up to Grand Lake, Colo., to greet the Adventure 2A and 2B groups as they exit from their respective 5-day outings. They’re our final set of trips this year, both in Rocky Mountain National Park and for the season.
For the first time since I launched trips under my own company in 2011, I sat out this block entirely. I helped send them off and was on-call throughout, but otherwise I was able to clean out the raised beds, sneak in a few adventure runs, and ponder the 2020 season.
State and concerns
Today I’m very pleased with the service that we offer, of which the guide team is the most important part.
Quantitative evidence supports my assessment. In the post-trip survey we send to every client, this year 113 out of 118 clients have given us a perfect 5/5 score when asked, “Overall, how satisfied are you with your experience?” The remaining five gave us a 4/5 rating.
Our scores have been high since 2014, when I started surveying clients. But we’re operating on another level now.
To maintain this quality over the long-term, however, I need to start building up the guide roster and training new additions. My strongest and most experienced guides — notably, Alan Dixon, Brian Robinson, and Mike Clelland, as well as Buzz Burrell and Dave Eitemiller — are in their 60’s, or will be within a few years. Currently, they’re all remarkably fit and healthy, over-the-top enthusiastic about guiding, and performing at their best, but they have full lives and can’t be all places at all times. It will take new guides several years to learn the program and the craft so that we can maintain our current level of client satisfaction.
New guides must strengthen our core expertise. Specifically, they should:
- Be passionate about teaching backpacking and wilderness skills, and
- Have extensive experience with long-distance trails and high routes.
New guides should also help rectify or balance out some of our weaknesses, both major (e.g. our aforementioned demographics) and minor (e.g. our relative lack of hammock experience).
Finally, I’ll give bonus points to prospects who already have an audience. Mostly on my own, I have grown the program to its current level (this year: four locations, 20 trips, and 176 clients). I can grow it more, but I think I can grow it faster by finding partners.
Who are your dream guides?
I’m not taking applications. I’m just looking for names of strong candidates that I should consider. Leave a comment, telling me about backpackers that you know of, follow, have learned from, find entertaining, and admire, and that you think might make an excellent addition to our team.
Give me bloggers, vloggers, YouTube or Instagram sensations, writers, speakers, forum moderators, guides, community volunteers, SAR team leaders, up-and-coming thru-hikers, or obscure. The sole criteria is that you’d want to take a guided trip with them.