Member Survey Results 2016

Member Survey

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our Member Survey for 2016. We are delighted to advise that we received responses from over 30% of our Members.

Those who completed our survey were automatically entered into a prize draw to win an IPad Air 2, and our lucky winner was Russell Smith of Outdoor Expeditions Ltd in Suffolk. If you are interested in reading about Outdoor Expeditions, their Member profile is featured in the news section of our website.

The AIM team have been busy collecting all the responses and reviewing the results. We hope that the results are not only of interest to our Members but also to the wider industry. Some of the key points were:

Member Information

  • We asked the responder whether they were the organisation owner, an individual Member or an employee: 73% of our survey responses came from the owners of the organisations
  • We asked about the type of activities provided.  From those that responded, 43% described themselves as multi-activity non-residential centres, with 35% providing water-based activities
  • 39% of the responses came from Members which have been with AIM for between 1-3 years, with 26% having been with us for more than 5 years

Marketing Information

  • Over 40% of responders heard of AIM through recommendations from our existing Members, with an additional 23% hearing of us through the Institute for Outdoor Learning
  • Over 56% of those who responded placed the primary reason they chose AIM as being the specialist service we provide
  • When asked how our Members would like to hear from us: 44% chose via seminars and workshops, closely followed by face to face networking events and newsletters. AIM is of course planning a number of Member events for this year and next, which we hope to see you at. A number of responders would also like to see an AIM Facebook page; this is something that AIM is planning to launch very shortly, solely for our Members. We hope the AIM Facebook group will be a place for our Members to share thoughts, ideas and issues, and a forum to keep up to date with industry news.

What would you say was your primary reason for choosing us?

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Events & Newsletters

  • Over 80% of responders who had attended our AIM Member events agreed that they were likely to attend future events
  • Our Members made a number of suggestions for future events, talks and newsletter articles; an overwhelming number are interested in claim case studies and the lessons learned. This is something we will look to include with our publications and talks

Industry Information

We asked our Members what current trends they had noticed in the industry and received a varied response. However, there were some common themes identified, which were:

  • An increased demand for adrenaline activities
  • An increase in last minute bookings
  • Prices being driven down due to competition
  • An increase in bush craft type activities

Member Satisfaction 

  • 72% and 19% of responders are very satisfied and quite satisfied respectively with our new-business service
  • 71% and 23% of responders are very satisfied and quite satisfied respectively with our renewal service

Renewal Service Satisfaction

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  • 16% of responders have used our claims service. Of those who have used it 75% were very satisfied with the process

Claims Process Satisfaction

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  • 97% of AIM Members who responded were either very likely or quite likely to renew with AIM

How likely are you to renew your cover with AIM?

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It is important to us to hear what our Members have to say about AIM. Overall, the response and the feedback have been very positive, with some very useful themes and messages to help us to improve our offering even further. The information received from Members will be used when planning our next newsletter and Member events, as well as future initiatives for AIM in the wider industry.

HMS Belfast

London & Aviemore Events

Activities Industry Mutual On Target

On Target – Autumn 2015 Newsletter

Message From Our Chairman

Andrew Gardiner reflects on another successful year for AIM

This autumn marks ten years since the publication of AIM’s first Newsletter announcing the formation of the company and inviting applications for Associate Membership. Back then our aim was to transform the picture for the outdoor sector whilst trying to source liability cover, and influence the replacement of the prevailing roller-coaster premium experience with something more stable and sustainable. By concentrating solely on the outdoor sector we would be addressing this problem of general insurers’ “in / out” mentality. This was recently illustrated most starkly in the demise last year of the JLT’s Adventure Insurance Activities Scheme, which left a large number of centres needing to renew their insurance elsewhere at very short notice.

AIM’s progress, for us, has been a fascinating and enjoyable journey and it’s a surprise to me that the past ten years seem to have sped by so quickly; liability cover, at least when mutualised, is far from boring! Of the original AIM directors, I’m delighted that Tricia Rawlingson-Plant of the Mill on the Brue centre, Bob Edwards of Stubbers and Glyn MacAulay, a former Lloyd’s insurance auditor, are still with me on the Board. I’m most grateful to them, current directors Peter Gordon (Rockley Watersports) and Paul Reeve (The Foundry Climbing Centre) and AIM’s previous directors for their energy, ideas and comradeship as the project has surged forward. I should like to record my personal thanks to Steve Taylor, who left the Board in July after eight years’ service. Steve’s counsel on all matters, but especially those relating to technical issues relating to climbing risks and incidents, has always been both practical and valuable.

In this year’s accounts, it was my pleasure once again to report on a successful year for the Mutual, with the financial statements showing another surplus after tax for the year ended 31 July 2014. In the current financial year our Membership has risen to 671 with annual contributions (income) for the year ended 31 July 2015 some 12.5% higher, in excess of £2 million. AIM has always had a profit-sharing arrangement with its excess insurer (Mitsui Sumitomo’s Lloyd’s syndicate) and I’m delighted to report that the Mutual was in receipt of such a payment this year in respect of 2007, AIM’s first year as a Mutual. Unlike insurance schemes which traditionally reward the broker, it is a unique feature of AIM that these payments are paid to the Mutual. However, as our success is founded on our Members’ collective high standards of activity provision and the good safety and claims record that this results in, it is right that you yourselves enjoy the benefits of profit sharing. Returning 7.5% of their 2007/2008 premium to Year 1 Members in February this year was a really significant milestone for the Mutual and I’m pleased to say that there is every prospect of surplus distributions to Year 3, 4 and 5 Members on the back of similarly good performances.

AIM supports its Members in many ways, particularly in post-incident management, with post-accident complaints and in potential claims situations. Wherever it can, AIM will share lessons learned, an important way to reduce future claims. Our developing relationship with Pharos Response has been of real value here, not only assisting in major incidents, but also helping to defuse complaints involving a vexatious participant or irate parent, thus mitigating the potential of difficult claims scenarios. These situations highlight the vital importance of good post-incident personal care with an injured participant, often involving parent(s), even after a relatively minor incident.

We also support Members through our programme of Member seminars and conferences. In February this year we held a West Country conference at Tricia’s Mill on the Brue centre in Bruton, Somerset and, in March, a northern seminar and AGM at Halifax Hall in Sheffield. See our review on page 12 for more information about these and forthcoming events. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues at Regis. Many of you will know James Willis and Shaun Fyson who have worked hard for AIM for many years, and Andy Baker, Brad Mott, Richard Izzard, Liz Thompson and Cathy Atkinson (both currently on maternity leave). With them is a team of specialists dedicated to ensuring that AIM provides us Members with a first-rate service.

AIM faces the next phase of its development with considerable confidence. We have over eight years of experience and data from liability claims in the outdoor sector; a growing Membership; a stable financial position; and strong partnerships within the industry. As our Membership increases, so does our reputation, and I believe that we can use that to the advantage of you, our Members, in the true spirit of mutuality. In the coming months we will be considering how best to capitalise on that position, and I look forward to meeting with you at one of our events where we will be very happy to hear your views.


Collaboration as Competitive Advantage

Charles Darwin has been spinning in his grave for too long, unsettled by the gratuitous misinterpretation of his magnum opus on evolution, writes Paul Renfro of Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group

‘Survival of the Fittest!’ business leaders chanted as they ran around with a belief that bigger is always better, and that having something that your competitor doesn’t have will make you stronger, more attractive and more successful.

It is a rallying call that’s wrong. Darwin never talked about the fittest, but what fits best – the fittingest you could call it. And that, as the Mad Hatter might say, is a very different proposition. Being fit for our surroundings means being highly aware of what’s happening around us, including the consequence of climate change, biodiversity loss and resource constraint. A heightened awareness of risk and the patterns of opportunity and danger brought a group of AIM-Member Welsh adventure businesses to discuss with AIM how to find better ways to share information for business benefit. Through better awareness of changes and good practice in operational and strategic risks, the business leaders believe that they can improve their safety practices, increase the attractiveness of their services to the public, and potentially reduce their liability insurance costs.

There is a long history of businesses working together for mutual benefit in Pembrokeshire, where the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group has for nearly 20 years provided a forum for 100% of the adventure industry to work with each other, and for officers from the National Park, National Trust and Natural Resources Wales to share good practice. The difference that is already being made by openly sharing knowledge on environmental impact gives the group’s coordinator, Paul Renfro, real confidence that the addition of risk and safety data to their conversations will significantly improve the overall resilience of the businesses and the communities they work in.

Andy Middleton, Founder Director of TYF Adventure, industry pioneers of sustainability and innovation, realised early on that the role of ‘honest brokers’ would be essential to build the trust that would underpin knowledge sharing; the role of their providers has been key to progress. Middleton believes that representation of so many businesses by AIM as a mutual providing an alternative to conventional insurance and the sharing of existing information can create a foundation of trust and evidence that makes it possible to explore savings and value at industry scale.

“There’s a huge pool of value that’s created when businesses share and collaborate using real data, rather than hunches, to guide their decisions”.

In recognising that the biggest threat that they face is not each other’s pricing or programme design but the missed opportunity to create value, Wales’ adventure industry could trigger much larger change. With evidence from the NHS that mental illness in Wales alone has a gross cost of £7.2bn a year and that active time in nature can do much to reduce mental illness, these businesses have realised that in raising their awareness of what’s possible, and of the good practices that improve performance, they can turn what was ‘old-school’ competitive practice into collaborations that create social, environmental and business benefit.

Author:- Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group


Are We Fulfilling Our Potential?

Andy Robinson, CEO of the Institute for Outdoor Learning, examines the changing map of the outdoor and activities industry.

With statements about the need for increased participation in sport and physical departments (see the latest consultation on a new sports strategy from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport as a good example) it seems that our world of outdoor adventurous activity provision is well placed to be part of a solution. Good news, but is this simply a case of doing ore of what we’re currently doing or is there a need for us to develop and reposition our offers to have a bigger impact than we do at present?

Some good work has been done recently by Sport England, The Sport & Recreation Alliance and The Outdoor Industries Association to gain a better understanding of the outdoor recreation market (in its widest sense) in the UK. The resultant report is available on the Sport England website. It points to a need to think about how well current outdoor activity-related services meet a range of different consumer motivations. for me it is also a reminder of how the needs and opportunities for outdoor activity participants change through our lifetime, and the fact that the outdoors is so often a medium to fulfil social, developmental or health needs. I believe the challenge for providers of outdoor adventurous activity is to better integrate their pure outdoor services with other activity so that those other needs can be more explicitly met.

The Institute is currently working with The Blagrave Trust to review the approaches evaluation of the impact of outdoor learning with children and young people. A report and guidance will be available later in the autumn. I strongly believe that if we are to develop the services of the sector to fulfil its potential, we need to be clear about how we achieve the most far-reaching and sustainable impact, be that with a health, education, environment

AIM Staff Profile – Brad Mott

Meet the Team

While most of our readers will have dealt with members of our team on the telephone, many of you will not have met face to face. Have you ever wondered who we are and what we do? We sent our intrepid reporter to interview AIM underwriter, Brad Mott, for an insider view.

Q: How long have you been at AIM and what do you do?

B: I began working for AIM just over two years ago, joining as a customer service and sales advisor, as the first port of call for new business enquiries. Attending the AHOEC seminar in Northern Ireland helped to develop my understanding of the sector, our Membership and the cover AIM provides, and earlier this year I moved into underwriting to progress my career at AIM. Since I have been here we have grown enormously and the variety and volume of work has been great. During our peak renewals period of March and April things can be pretty hectic!

Q: How do you fill your spare time?

B: I’ve always had an interest in the outdoors and adventure, and I enjoy keeping fit, doing anything from weight training to cycling and football. My dad used to be a body builder so sport and fitness have always run in the family. I enjoy travelling, walking my dog and spending time outdoors with my other half. I also run the Regis Fantasy Football League!

Q: What is your greatest sporting achievement?

B: I’ve become something of a runner in the last few years, going from barely being able to manage 5km to completing four half marathons and the full London Marathon this year. I cramped at the 15-mile mark and was disappointed with my time but it was still a great sense of achievement to complete the course and do my part in raising £2,700 for Havens Hospice in Essex. I should say a special thanks to my mum for baking and donating a mountain of cakes in support, and to everyone at the Regis Tunbridge Wells office for buying and devouring them.

Q: What activities do you plan to try next?

B: I want to try my hand at stand-up paddle boarding next time I’m by the water. I also have something of a passion for flying so a sky dive is definitely on the list, along with wing walking which can be done at a small air field in Essex, close to where I’m from. Completing a marathon in a faster time is another challenge I’m looking forward to taking on. I would also like to pursue some PT and fitness qualifications. I’m certainly open to adventure so who knows what the future may hold?

Lessons Learned – Claims News

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is the world’s leading achievement award for young people. Its ethos is to enable every young person of every background to take part and succeed, regardless of any barriers.

Many of our Members will be familiar with the programme, in which young people aged between 14 and 24 progress through three levels to achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold award. It requires persistence, commitment and has a lasting impact on the attitudes and outlook of all young people who participate, building confidence and self-esteem. Awards are delivered under special licence by over 400 partners, many of whom are Members of AIM, supporting nearly 11,000 DofE centres including youth clubs, voluntary organisations, schools, colleges, young offenders’ institutions and businesses.

As with any worthwhile award, there is no guarantee that all participants will achieve the required standard. As well as successes there will sometimes be disappointments and occasionally a disgruntled parent may look for someone to blame for their child’s unexpected set-back, whether it be their failure to achieve a DofE Award or an elusive A* grade. There may be an element of this in two recent claims for personal injury compensation arising from DofE activities.

The first claim involves a high-achieving schoolgirl, Emma, participating in a Gold practice expedition managed by her school with the help of qualified instructors hired to assist in specific elements. Emma developed a strain, which may have been an exacerbation of a previous shoulder injury, from stoically carrying her rucksack through the expedition, despite suffering discomfort. Offers were made by staff to take her rucksack, which she consistently turned down, wanting to continue to the end. By the end of the expedition, the discomfort had developed into a strained shoulder which required attention and follow-up physio treatment. Although she withdrew from the actual Gold award expedition, we are told that she was soon back playing netball in the school team. Her disappointed parents decided to sue both the school and the instructors, alleging that their negligence caused Emma’s injury.

The second claim involves a schoolgirl, Coral, in a group of seemingly less-than-enthusiastic or uncooperative participants in a Silver award expedition. In deteriorating misty and drizzly conditions, the specialist provider managing the expedition decided to call the groups off the hillside shortly after midday. This instruction was acknowledged by Coral, who had been appointed as the nominated point of contact in her group. However, shortly after the call, Coral went “off air”; her phone had been turned off and the group was no longer in contact. An hour later, communication with the group was (briefly) re-established, as they had met up with another group with a working phone and once again they were instructed to come down off the hill. It soon became clear that this instruction too was not complied with and they were off air again, so the leaders set out themselves to search for the group. Some 45 minutes later, the leaders received a phone call from the group who were now situated even further up the hill, cold and wet.

This time they were told to put up a tent for shelter in an area that is visible to rescuers and have some hot food to keep warm. However, they decided instead to settle inside a wooded area out of vision and telephone Mountain Rescue. A while later they were helicoptered out, colder and wetter. Coral’s parents blame the expedition provider and have lodged a claim for compensation alleging that a “non-freezing cold injury” to their daughter’s feet was caused by their negligence. Who actually is deemed to have been at fault for this non-serious injury will be decided in court.

Lessons learned.

In both cases the injuries were minor and the claims detract from the work that the schools and instructors put in to provide the real benefits to their charges that the DofE programme offers to young people and society as a whole. Both cases have cost the schools and providers a great deal, not least in terms of management time, and in Emma’s case the school has decided not to manage any more DofE programmes in the future.

In the first case, admirable though Emma’s determination to carry on was, had she accepted the help with her rucksack that she was offered, it is likely she would have continued and achieved her Gold Award. So for teachers and providers, it is important that individual participants and their attitudes are monitored closely. Where a school is managing the programme and hiring instructors for specific elements, it’s important that the division or delegation of responsibilities is made crystal clear and documented at the outset.

In the second case, a lack of commitment of some of the participants seems apparent. It’s important that the expedition programme manager, as well as constantly monitoring the participants’ commitment, ensures that the parents, too, actually “buy in” to the programme. They can contribute by supporting their kids jointly with the teachers at school, so that all parties are committed and fully aware of the responsibilities and rewards involved in the challenge.


The names of the participants have been changed to preserve anonymity. In both cases AIM is resisting the claim on behalf of the Member.

Andrew Gardiner

Chairman’s Message, Autumn 2014

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