Our diverse membership covers many locations and activities. Back up to Scotland we speak to Jim at Active Outdoor Pursuits who operate a varied programme of activities and have been with the Mutual since 2008.
What do you/your organisation do?
Active Outdoor Pursuits offer a wide range of Outdoor Activities across the whole of Scotland and abroad in places like Spain, Austria, and the USA. We run everything from single day activities to family breaks, groups, stag and hen parties, adventure journeys all the way through to Outdoor Instructor Training Courses. On top of this we offer outdoor education school residentials and DofE expeditions and residentials.
Our activity list is forever changing as we always strive to adapt to what our clients are after. Our diversity is our biggest advantage. But our popular activities always seem to remain pretty standard. Throughout the summer, our popular activities are White Water Rafting and Canyoning. Throughout the Winter they turn to Winter skills, Snowholing, Skiing on and off piste and Snowboarding.
How long have you been an AIM Member?
Since it was formed in 2008.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of the job is seeing others appreciating the outdoors for what it has to offer and teaching them new skills in whatever activity they choose. From a school group perspective seeing the younger generations overcoming their fears and experiencing new and exciting activities they have not done before is always amazing. From an expedition perspective, seeing all the stunning locations and scenery around Scotland & the World will never get old. And from an instructional standpoint seeing new generations of instructors learning the skills required to take groups out themselves and continually develop is great.
What issues do you think the industry faces this year?
Covid-19 has and will continue to have a serious impact on many businesses and industries across the globe. In our line of work one things start to become more normal it will likely be impossible to run certain popular activities like rafting or canyoning as social distancing would not be possible if we had to help get someone back into a boat or manage a via ferrate in a canyon.
Many groups like schools and DofE programmes have had to be rearranged for further down the line. This is great that re-arranging programmes is possible, and many groups have been extremely thankful that we can do this. But thinking from a business perspective. Re-arranging all the programmes and activities we have had booked in means little if any new ones can get booked up which obviously means a huge reduction in income for the year. If we get a good winter season in Scotland next year then perhaps that will help as a lot of people will not be wanting or possibly even able to travel abroad so perhaps the skiing and snowboarding activities in winter next year will be even more popular…
Some of the biggest issues will be in the freelance part of the industry, as most of these individuals will struggle significantly and some may not return to the industry afterwards. Active rarely use freelancers, but a huge number of companies rely on them which could become a serious issue for companies and freelancers alike.
As such even once things get back to normal it will be extremely hard for the outdoor industry because the normal popular activities will be very hard if not impossible to run. We will have to adapt to running new or different activities which we can adhere to strict government regulations. We have a few ideas in mind but nothing concrete yet.
What benefits have you gained from being an AIM Member?
AIM have provided our business with the level of insurance cover required for our business at competitive rates consistently for 13 years. We have always found them supportive and aware of our unique industry requirements.
What exciting projects do you have lined up for the future?
Currently we are working away on our website as well as updating all of our policies plus ensuring that we can get on top of any tasks like maintenance (building up task lists for when we can return to working normal) while following strict government rules and regulations. All of our staff are currently working from home. We have also started writing a blog which we hope to keep going to keep any of our clients (or just anyone) interested.
We are keeping in contact with each other amongst the staff team to try and think of new and exciting adventures which we will be able to offer and help people get back into the outdoors while maintaining social distancing when things do return to more of a normal position. As it is, we are still hoping that our Outdoor instructor Training Courses later in the year will run with strict social distancing guidelines being adhered to (so long as lockdown gets lifted).
What’s your favourite activity?
My favourite activity is climbing – it is such a versatile sport. You don’t have to go and climb anything hard, you can climb things that are not too technically challenging and still have an amazing day. It is not all about pushing yourself to your limits. Some of the larger mountain routes are situated in phenomenal locations so you get to see sections of the world which simply put are stunning. Plus when you top out the views you get (in most places) are worth every second.
What activity do you want to try?
Anything I haven’t already – you never know if you will enjoy something until you try it for the first time. But the two that really come to mind for me are very different. I would love to try exploratory expeditions either kayaking or climbing in remote locations across the world. And as a paddler (amongst many other things) in Scotland, I have never tried Salmon fishing in Scotland. I would love to see the Scottish rivers from the fishing perspective as well. This would also be great as it could help to improve relations between fishermen and paddlers
You can view our other member profiles by clicking on the links here