Sam Sutton from New Forest Activities gives us a glimpse into life in the New Forest.
From humble beginnings in 2003, New Forest Activities began as Liquid Logistics, and with just 6 canoes started guiding families and small groups on the wonderful Beaulieu River. Evolving and expanding over the years, New Forest Activities is now the largest provider of outdoor activities within the New Forest National Park.
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 their specific goals.  We run everything from short guided canoeing tours for tourists to full week long development training courses for young people.  We currently have two centres at opposite ends of the UK, the New Forest and the Cairngorms!

How long have you been an AIM Member?

8 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?

Confidence in the economy will likely impact spending, although I’m positive we’ll still see people valuing experiences over belongings when it comes to their spare income.

However, with purses squeezed offering extra value will be key to filling sessions. The increase cost of power, food / drink, suppliers and wages bills will put pressure on margins.

Price increases are essential, to keep our centres viable. As an industry we should show solidarity and work to raise the bar in terms of quality, not undercut each other for a quick sale.

We know what we do add enormous benefit to people’s lives, so let’s not sell ourselves short by selling cheap.

Finally, recruitment continues to be a challenge, as the longer terms effects of COVID still linger on.

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? 

Bringing our new centre up to standard and increasing our portfolio is the plan. We’re moving our businesses towards the higher end of the market, working in partnership with training companies, especially focused on Team Building and corporate retreats.

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!