The Weekly - June 30, 2020 - 11

of the year for many guides, has
been canceled. The fall and winter
seasons are shrouded in uncertainty.
Rafting companies are canceling
trips, and biking outfits are watching the dust gather on gear.

Digital platform 57Hours
connects clients to guides.


F R O M TO P : CO U R T E SY 5 7 H O U R S , CA R LO N AS I S S E

released by 57Hours, a digital platform connecting consumers to over
700 certified guides, highlighted
the stresses prevalent. Less than
2% of the respondents said they
have worked since March while also
reporting that 78% of their future
bookings have been canceled outright. For a group that historically
has been made up of seasonal-not
full time-employees, that spells
disaster. To get by, many are on unemployment, are tapping into what
savings they have, and are taking the
odd job where they can find it.
"Some guide services have shut
their doors for the summer season
instead of trying to reopen during
these times," says Angela Hawse,
president of the nonprofit American Mountain Guides Association
(AMGA). "The ones that are going
back to work are looking at 10 to
25% of capacity. There just is not
going to be much work in the near
future, and who knows what the fall
and winter will bring."
While consumers are starting to
trickle back into parks and other
outdoor spaces, which is good for
retailers and brands, they are still
wary of committing to guided trips.
How to safely take groups into the
outdoors while ensuring social distancing is a challenge many outfit-


ters and guide services are working
to figure out. Smaller groups, better
client-to-guide ratios, enhanced
sanitation protocols, and lower
profit margins are all part of the
new reality, along with a myriad
of new federal, state, and local
restrictions with which to contend.
To help, the AMGA and The North
Face have partnered to create an
online Coronavirus Industry Response Center.
Another ancillary
fallout is the effect cancellations of guided trips
has on local communities. Popular adventure
towns- like Chamonix,
France; Ouray, Colorado;
Lees Ferry, Arizona; and
others-have long been a
renewable resource for the

outdoor recreation economy; their
entire infrastructure is built around
it. With guides out of work, many
related businesses (restaurants,
shops, hotels) have ground to a halt.

industry, brands can contribute financially to the numerous
funds being set up to help those
sidelined. Pro deals are going
to be more important than ever
as these individuals struggle to
pay their bills and equip themselves once the business starts to
rebound. According to the survey
from 57Hours, most guides don't
anticipate business and salaries returning to normal until
December 2020 or later. That's
almost a year of no consistent
cash f low.

One of the best ways the industry can help is by supporting local
guide services. Brands can develop
marketing strategies centered
around hiring guides. As consumers start to venture out of their
homes and back into the outdoors,
they will turn to their trusted
shops to give them advice about
where to head. Pointing them to
local guide services can help.
"We have had overwhelming
success in the past with campaigns
built around guides," says Hawse.
"That is needed now more than
ever. Customers trust their brands
and shops, so pointing them toward guides is ideal."
There is some good news. Many
local guides and outfitters are
reporting sudden upticks in people
who want to learn to paddle or
climb now that restrictions are
loosening up-an unflux that could
save some businesses in mountain
towns. The headwinds facing the
international guiding industry,
however, will take real effort to
overcome. Uncertainty about
flights, about when countries will
reopen their borders, and about another resurgence of COVID-19 are
monumental. Getting the message
out to them that it's alright to book
a guided trip is crucial.
"If people are not traveling for
adventure and booking guide companies and such, then why would
they need to buy gear?" says Tracy
Shayhorn, the owner of Cabarete
Kite Point School in the Dominican
Republic. "You buy gear to go out
an adventure; that's the crux of the
entire industry."
There's no better group of people
equipped to deal with adversity
than guides. But, right now, they
need help, and it behooves the entire outdoor industry to lend them
a helping hand. "If you are a guide,
it is your passion. You did not
get into this to sit at a desk," says
Waters. "We will hunker down only
now, but still emerge after-like we
always do."


The Weekly - June 30, 2020

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