The Constraints

Experiences must be viable, desirable and feasible to be successful in the long term. We refer to these as the constraints: the elements that must be true for the experience to exist. Addressing these early on in the planning process helps ensure that the products we build are sustainable. 

We’re firm believers that constraints are things that make us more creative. Taking them into account early on in the process allows us to create better experiences and helps us avoid the costly realization later on that the tour we’ve built can’t be offered.

Viable 

Can this experience be commercially viable? We need to look at whether this experience can generate a profit and if the investment required can be recouped. This includes looking at the market conditions to make sure that there is sufficient demand. If we are planning to work with the travel trade we need to take into consideration existing itineraries and whether this experience would be a match with their existing products.

In our experience, it takes three seasons for a new product to reach viability. The first season sees mostly returning guests and visitors who are already familiar with what we offer. The second season builds on these early adopters attracting their friends and family through word of mouth. The third season starts to see enough momentum to attract guests who are new to us or the destination.

A few questions to consider:

  • Does it solve a problem for our guests?
  • Is there a market for it?
  • Can it be priced to generate a profit or can it produce the outcomes required to sustain funding?
  • Do we have the resources to support the product through the first 3 seasons?

Example: Visitors are worried about safety, having the right equipment and making sure that they find the best spots for ice bubbles when visiting Abraham Lake in the winter. The ice walks we offer solve those three problems for our guests.

Desirable

A desirable adventure is one that meets the needs of the guests while having a positive impact, or at least minimizing negative consequences, on the local community and environment.

What does it mean in practice? We follow our guiding principle that caring for the environment and each other is not a trend, it’s part of living. We use an approach of normalizing actions like reducing idle time on vehicles, using reusable or compostable containers, and following Leave no Trace principles. Our guests notice those things without us having to tell them.

We also embrace the fact that anything we do in this regard will be imperfect. The goal is to do the best we can, given our resources and the reality we live in.

Example: Expanse Cottages has fostered a quiet and relaxing environment without overcrowding, ensuring that their neighbours are not negatively affected by increased traffic and noise. 

Feasible

Not every experience we dream up is feasible, at least in the short term. A few things to consider:

  • Do we have the certifications, permits and insurance needed to deliver the experience? If not, how long will the process be or can we partner with another established experience provider?
  • Is it feasible within our current operations or will it require major changes? Is this something we can offer on a regular basis or is it better as a special event?

Example: We do not offer alcoholic beverages on our tours, other than special events or while at the Canteen, since it is not currently covered under our insurance nor allowed under our AGLC liquor license. 

Another element to consider is whether the region is ready for the proposed experience. You can see below how using our experience framework helps you to address the key blocks of destination development identified by Travel Alberta.