Sam Sutton from New Forest Activities gives us a glimpse into life in the New Forest and plans to diversify in the light of the pandemic.
What do you/your organisation do?

Outdoor activities for a range of client types.  We help people fulfil their objectives, adapting activities and programmes depending on the type of client and there specific goals.  We run everything from 2 hour guide canoeing tours for tourists to full week long development training courses for young people.

How long have you been an AIM Member?

5 years (I think – maybe more?)

What’s the best part of your job?

Providing opportunities for people to grow through memorable experiences.  We love it most when people achieve something they did not think possible.

What issues do you think the industry faces this year?

Well COVID-19 is going to be massive, the loss of the majority of the season is going to put huge pressure on the industry.  With schools and youth programmes effectively cancelling the season, we’re only going to be able to fall back on the recreational sector.  There’s going to be huge strain on organisations and of course the freelancer community.  This impact will not be truly revealed until winter 20/21 as without a decent trading period, the next winter will, I believe, be the biggest challenge for most of us.

What benefits have you gained from being an AIM Member?

Lots of support when needed, especially when we’ve had a minor incident or some concerns around customer behaviours.  The rates are very competitive and we’ve found the claims process simple on the couple of times people have stolen equipment from our sites.  I especially like the fact that membership feels like a club / support group too.

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

Before COVID, I almost completed the transition from director to owner, enabling me to start a new training company, focusing on helping other business owners and leaders to grow.  I’ve developed personal, team and business growth systems and was getting ready to go to market with them.  The current climate has caused a need to re-focus on New Forest Activities, as we now need to adapt to the huge challenge ahead of us.  However, I’m also using this time to help other business owners, as actually now more than ever, is the time where the systems can be proven to work.

What’s your favourite activity?

Still white water kayaking, if access to the right environment was simple, it would always be my go to experience!

What activity do you want to try?

I’d love to be able to learn paragliding, I’ve done it once, but it seems a daunting thing to get into and getting the right environment is harder than boating!