Working with Partners and Stakeholders


Benefits of partnership include the increased ability to serve the customer needs, cooperate in marketing effort, diversify product offering and share resources. It is based on a shared need and it usually involves some level of combination of products, expertise, resources, actions and customer/suppliers access by two or more organizations.

Similar to guide’s motivations.

Technical issues can be addressed but motivations have to fit. Must meet all constraints before adventure is offered.

Partner or supplier?

This changes the requirements.

How integrated are they into the experience or is it a package.

Cohesiveness of the guest experience.

Purpose and principles have to be compatible, cause has to be aligned and ideal guest agreed upon as part of the development process.

Implementation of the partnership in writing. Ideally as part of the development process if they are an integral component.

Do all products require a partnership?

  • Destination experiences: yes
  • Product experiences: it depends

Types of partnerships

  • Suppliers
  • “Guest Star” / Component
  • Co-creation / Co-delivery

Characteristics of partners

  • Demonstrated skills, subject matter experts
  • Willing and able to develop stories
  • Dedicated to quality
  • Willing to be coached
  • Sees potential for new revenues
  • Understand that their experience provides value
  • Passionate, storytelling ability, great at communication, reliable, positive reputation, good advocates.


In many cases, vertical integration provides a better guest experience by having one company controlling all aspects of the adventure. That’s why we chose to expand with the Nordegg Canteen so that all the food for our tours could be done in-house. It’s also why we have invested our resources in developing to provide a more cohesive experience for our guests.

That being said, there are many cases where partnerships make more sense and where working with others creates the best experience for our guests. One of those is where our limited resources, interests and expertise make it better to partner with others who can deliver a higher quality product than we could. This is also true when other experience providers can bring a different perspective that complements our adventures and further enhance the destination experience for our guests.

There are three types of partnerships we usually do. The first one is with suppliers or marketing partners. These are usually operators offering their own experience we can resell, package with our products, or work with to promote various itineraries. It’s a similar relationship with destination management organizations where we can collaborate with their campaigns.

The second type is the “guest star” partner. This may be a supplier offering a customized tour as part of one of our adventures. It may also be a guest guide, like an artist, chef or other local storyteller joining us for a special tour. These types of partnerships work best for special events and one-off tours.

Finally, in some cases, we may co-create and/or co-deliver a tour with another provider. Partnerships like these require a lot more work to plan and on an ongoing basis to maintain a high-quality standard.

Each of these types of partnerships requires an increasing level of alignment between partners. Understanding our purpose helps us find the right partners in the same way that it helps us connect with our ideal guests.

At the local level that means celebrating and including other providers that appeal to our guests and provide a consistently great experience. Some of these include the Girth Hitch Guiding, Rockies Heli Canada, Miners’ Cafe and Expanse Cottages.

At the regional level we continue to work with David Thompson Country, a collaboration of Clearwater County, the Town of Rocky Mountain House and the Village of Caroline, to promote the region. Their content tends to be more informational, filling a gap for visitors learning about the area. They have introduced us to many of our guests and are a great resource for guests looking at options to add to their itinerary.

Other communities like Jasper, Banff, Canmore, Sylvan Lake and Red Deer have the potential to play a bigger role as a basecamp for our guests or as part of an extended itinerary. Awareness of our region within these communities is still very limited however and interest from their DMOs limited.

At the provincial and national levels, Travel Alberta and Destination Canada play an important role in the early stages of our guests’ journey. While their content tends to be more trendy than our guests, the appeal of their inspirational content drives a number of bookings. We have had limited success sharing their content, instead we find that the best option is to provide them with current information about our adventures and supporting media visits.

Adventure requires collaboration and working together.

Delivering memorable adventures requires us to build strong and positive relationships with the people and organizations that have a stake in the success of the tour, the stakeholders. Understanding each of the groups involved and their interests will help you create a positive setting for the adventure.


A tool to identify those involved in developing and facilitating the adventure.

Develop the stakeholder map. Identify internal and external experts. This is not an exhaustive list, the goal isn’t to map all possibilities. Only map people who are relevant for this project. For example, a politician may be relevant if their approval is required, otherwise not likely.

The Six Quadrants

  • Partners / Suppliers
  • Community and User Groups
  • Sales and Customer Experts
  • Marketing
  • Regulatory
  • Experience Development

The Field (Experience) Team

Must have working knowledge of all the quadrants.

May include an external partner.

The Role of the Guide

[Being a guide is about much more than providing safety or navigation services, delivering an interpretive program or having personal experience doing the activity. ]

  • Discuss the role of the guide and how it is different in an adventure context and a museum or attraction.

Being a guide means balancing multiple demands at once, from legal obligations to insurance requirements, from meeting guest expectations to ensuring that we respect the places we love. This training module is about developing our decision making abilities as leaders to ensure that we guide in a responsible manner.

The adventure guide helps by taking a leadership role for others under their care while on an adventure, creating connections to place and people along the way.

This is done by taking a guest centered approach, where the needs of the guests come first, with a combination of five core competency areas. Guides demonstrate:

  • a coaching [EXPLAIN COACHING VS INSTRUCTING] approach to ensure the guests have the technical skills required for the activity;
  • an storytelling approach to create a sense of place and connection;
  • a safety first approach to create a safe and inclusive environment;
  • the delivery of great guest experiences; and
  • the implementation of sustainable practices.

The role of the guide is similar in other experiential guiding contexts, whether you work as an expedition guide, an outdoor recreation leader or a teacher working in an outdoor classroom. After all, adventure travel is simply a type of experiential travel that combines nature, culture and activities with a sense of adventure, often involving some physical or mental exertion and a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone.

Based on the Adventure Travel Trade Association Guide Qualifications and Performance Standards and ISO 21101 / 21102. The ATTA includes sustainability as the 5th competency. We believe that it is such an important part of delivering an authentic experience that it is foundational to each adventure being offered rather than something the guide needs to consider separately.

[Guides as the destination’s storytellers.]

The Internal Team

Your Organization

The field team includes you, your participants and co-leaders. To be effective, participants and co-leaders need to know what will be expected of them, and how to fulfill those expectations.

All members of the field team need to know basic information about the venue, the equipment, and meeting information. This process usually involves sending out equipment lists and schedules to participants and co-leaders.

Before the event, you need to make sure that everyone has at least a basic understanding of the objectives. This helps with mental and physical preparation. Additionally, everyone needs to know their what is expected of them and agree to this. This is particularly true of your co-leaders since you will have to rely on them. Explaining your expectations in the middle of the event is undesirable. It only takes one person who does not meet expectations to disrupt the event.

It is always a good idea to give participants an overview of the expected hazards and how to defend against them. This will also inform them about the risks associated with your event and help them decide if this event is right for them. This overview is preferably done verbally in a whole group setting, informed consent forms are useful but often not sufficient.

Finally, it is a good idea to inform participants that the event includes a reflection, an opportunity for them to share their thoughts with the group, so they can prepare any thoughts they might want to share.


Sponsoring organizations take many forms (e.g. school, hiking club, band council, guiding company, etc.). The organization you are working or volunteering for has considerable moral and legal responsibilities towards your event. This gives them many obligations.

The organization provides many of the resources you need for your event including financial and infrastructure support, insurance, permits, and training. It is important to develop a strong understanding of how your organization is structured so that events can be designed and delivered accordingly.

At times, administrative processes can hinder the delivery of your event. If this is the case, try to understand which organizational need is met by these processes. You will be able to effect change more successfully if you can offer an alternative way of fulfilling the same need.

Another important role your organization should play is that of supervision. Good supervision includes the following:

  • Guidance and growth for leaders.
  • A culture of learning and sharing.
  • Support for leaders in their work and limiting unnecessary bureaucracy
  • Data collection, monitoring, and reporting of field data to identify emerging issues and opportunities.

Unfortunately, this ideal type of supervision is not always present in a sponsoring organization and it will be your responsibility to advocate for quality supervision. We recognize that this can be challenging and recommend that you do your best to ensure good supervision. At times, peer supervision can be an effective alternative to formal supervision.

Most organizations use at least some form of paperwork as a communication and tracking processes. At times, leaders may find completing paperwork tedious. However, in addition to being part of a leader’s responsibility, properly completed paperwork helps the organization offer good supervision. Additionally, it ensures due diligence was accomplished if an accident happens.

May include an external partner in the internal team if core to the delivery,

The External Team

Delivery and Destination Partners

Include a section on how to work with delivery partners. OCC only includes transportation in this section.

Your event may require a transportation company. If that is the case, you must make sure to provide the company with all necessary information about the event so that the schedule will go smoothly on the day-of. Often transportation companies are not aware of the specific requirements for outdoor events. The information you provide should include time and location of the event, contact information, as well as specific storage needs whether in or outside the vehicle, and contingency plans in case the event is cut short. Many transportation companies work with tight schedules. It will be important that your group is ready to leave on time.

Participants, Parents, Legal Guardians and Sponsoring Organizations

Slightly different from the OCC since sponsoring organizations add requirements to our guiding contexts.

When working with minors, children or youth, parents and legal guardians are important stakeholders to consider. At minimum, the parents’ role is to help their child prepare. To do so, they will require access to information such as equipment lists and meeting times. Parents and legal guardians are also needed to give permission for their child to participate in an event. For this permission to be valid you must be able to demonstrate that parents (or legal guardians) provided informed consent. Usually, this is done by having parents (or legal guardians) sign a form that lists activities, hazards and the hazard management plan.

By engaging parents and guardians, you often gain their support for your program. A good starting point is to inform them how your outdoor event will benefit their child. Their support will make your program more resilient and sustainable. Some of the best outdoor programs engage parents throughout the planning process.

Land Managers

Some venues will be managed by specific organizations (e.g. Park, Crown, Band Council, etc.). Land managers are important stakeholders since they are responsible for the natural environments we visit. You should be aware of who manages the land, and what they expect of your group. Not respecting expectations can lead to conflicts, banned access, fines, etc.

Other Stakeholders

Depending on your program and organization, there might be many other stakeholders influencing your event. A few examples are insurance companies, external funding organizations, equipment rental outlets, and other organizations that run events at the same venue. You need to understand and respect their objectives. A common source of conflict is with other groups using the same venue. Ideally, you will be able to coordinate with their leaders and minimize potential conflict. The cooperation of these stakeholders is essential for the ongoing success of your program.

Include a section on how to work with advisors, consultants and the support industry.


A group of people working together as a team will achieve a much better result than a collection of individuals working independently on the same task. Strong teams are composed of people who trust each other, share a common objective, and are willing to make an effort to ensure it is successful.

Communication is an essential tool to build teams. Ideally, this process is a dialogue aimed at increasing understanding. When communicating face to face consider not only your words, but also your tone of voice and body language as they can send a very different message than what you intended. Be aware that many other factors (e.g. ambient noise, visual distractions, feelings of stress, etc.) can interfere with communication.

Ensure that both you and the various stakeholders are clear on what role each is expected to play during the event. Where possible, distribute roles amongst the field team members. It is often a good idea to delegate parts of the planning process to others. When people invest their time and effort into an event, their commitment increases.
Good feedback helps both personal and organizational growth and will increase group cohesion. For feedback to achieve good results it needs to be delivered in a positive but truthful way.

Team building requires constant work and attention. Your capacity to build strong teams will come with experience, reflection, and training. Remember, it is about the journey, not the destination.

We’re working with fantastic partners and discovering new ones on a regular basis. Our other site,, brings together a lot of options when building a new experience.

The Development Team

Team size

  • Assign a facilitator and a project owner. Should be separate people so that the project owner can fully participate.
  • Discuss the role of the facilitator as also part coach rather than objective outsider.
  • Identify the decision maker(s). Should be able to quickly make decisions during meeting and afterward.
  • Build the core internal team. Needs to be a diverse team.
  • Discuss options when working with a small team.
  • Build the expert team that will be involved during the validations.

The Field Team

Direct contact (e.g. guides) and indirect contact (sales) roles.