This month we have spoken to Keith Ballam from Craggan Outdoors

What do you/your organisation do?

Craggan Outdoors is an award-winning outdoor activity centre with 60-bed bunkhouse accommodation & a licensed café-venue, based at Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairngorms National Park / Highlands of Scotland

How long have you been an AIM Member?

My wife & I bought the business in October 2008 & inherited the relationship with AIM, & over the last 11 years this has been something that we’ve been very pleased to retain

What’s the best part of your job?

Operating a business where people generally come with a smile on their face & an expectation that they’re going to have an enjoyable time, & seeing them leave with an even bigger smile on their face having had a fantastic time!

What issues do you think the industry faces this year?

The biggest issue I feel is the overall level of taxation & related costs – VAT, business rates, Employers NI contributions, the recent addition of employer’s pension contributions, Corporation Tax etc – is very high in the UK & takes a significant share of income, limiting funds available for investment in the business. And specifically in the Highlands, the area’s council is currently looking at imposing a transient visitor level, basically a ‘bed tax’ which would add yet further financial & regulatory burden, & could also potentially act as a deterrent to people visiting the area.

What benefits have you gained from being an AIM Member?

The most obvious is competitively priced insurance from an organisation that is set up for, & has an in-depth understanding of the outdoor sector, with the added bonus of being a long-time member so receiving a nice rebate for the last couple of years as well. I also find the case studies & other articles in AIM’s regular member publication to be very helpful, as well as the occasional opportunity to meet with AIM staff & other members at events. And overall it’s good to know that AIM ‘has your back’ should that support ever be needed.

What exciting projects do you have lined up for the future?

No specific projects as such, but we will of course be promoting our most recent award win, having been recognised as ‘Best Outdoor Adventure Experience’ in the Scottish Outdoor Leisure Awards 2019, & would be hopeful that it will have a very positive effect on business going forward into the 2020 season.

What’s your favourite activity?

Of those that we offer, I don’t think that you can beat gorge walking. It really is something different that very few people have done before coming to us, & it’s almost unheard of for participants not to be completed thrilled & exhilarated by their experience, & this is very much my own feeling whenever I’ve done it!

What activity do you want to try?

Would have to be skydiving / parachuting. One day I’ll give it a go!.

Thank you to Keith for providing us with an insight into Craggan Outdoors.

You can read about some of our other member’s here:-

Ardentinny Outdoor Centre – Member Profile

British Exploring Society – Member Profile 

The Climbing Hangar – Member Profile

Hebridean Pursuits – Member Profile 

Birch Hall Adventures – Member Profile 

Releasing Potential – Member Profile