Survey Exposes Impact of COVID-19 on the Outdoor Guiding Industry
57Hours, a leading booking service for outdoor guides, surveyed 100+ active mountain guides on how their businesses have been affected by the pandemic. Here’s what they found.
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New York, NY (June 4, 2020) — 57Hours, the company that connects individuals with certified guides for outdoor adventures, recently compiled the results of a survey of independent mountain guides to explore the effects of COVID-19 on the outdoor guiding industry. 109 independent guides responded, and the results paint a grim picture for the near future of the outdoor guiding industry. Overwhelming sentiment indicated that fear from would-be clients may prevent guides from getting back to work long after other small businesses have reopened.
92% of guides surveyed facilitated their last guided trip in February or March 2020, meaning they have been out of work for nearly two months. IFMGA and AMGA guide Rob Coppolillo says “Here in Europe, we were forbidden to work, so that decision was made for us. Guides in the U.S., though, face more uncertainty with the varying local and state restrictions. Most guides have accounted for this by taking the conservative route and ceasing all operations. As businesses reopen, some guide services continue to put their services on hold while others are pushing to get back in the field. It’s a tough situation.” This abrupt halt in guided travel resulted in a financial blow to many. Most respondents indicated they have already lost 75-100% of their guiding income in 2020. While emergency government funds have created financial buffers for other groups of freelance professionals, less than half of guides surveyed had successfully applied for a PPP loan at the time of the survey.
Guides, like many others in the freelance economy, are by and large ready to get back to work in the coming weeks, but their clients feel differently. While many guides responded that they agree the stay at home measures are appropriate at this time, 62% indicated that they believe it will be safe to start taking clients back out this summer and it’s unlikely to contract the virus outdoors with proper screening and social distancing measures. However, respondents indicated that 78% of their future trip bookings have been outright cancelled with no plans to reschedule. 69% anticipate that the guiding industry and salaries will not return to normal until December 2020 or later. As one guide explained, “The bottom line is that clients will not come back until they are comfortable. In my opinion, business will not go back to previous levels until immediate testing or a vaccine is readily available.
Regardless, one thing is certain: when trips do resume, adventure travel will be different in many ways. Most guides indicated they will take extra precautionary measures and alter the way they run their businesses.
70% commented that taking only 1-2 individuals out at a time matters most to them for safe guiding during COVID-19. Others say they will likely start by booking only return clients with whom they’re already well acquainted. Frequent equipment disinfection, mask-wearing, mandatory health testing, and physical distancing will all be part of the new normal. Sadly, high-fives and hugs after a trip might be a thing of the past. 57Hours founder, Viktor Marohnic, says, “We are excited to start booking trips to provide work for our community of guides. It’s been a difficult time, but the outdoor community is extremely resilient. As soon as it’s safe to do so, we’re looking forward to providing the platform to connect guides with adventurers and get everyone back into the outdoors.”
57Hours is a platform that connects individuals with certified guides for outdoor adventures all over the world. The company was founded in 2019, based on the belief that every weekend should involve time spent in the outdoors and enjoying it to the fullest–which means taking advantage of the full 57 hours from 3pm on Friday to midnight on Sunday. Their mobile app makes it easy to find and book adventures worth tackling and guides worth booking, all gathered from locals and first-hand experiences. The platform also enables a passionate community of independent mountain guides to share their amazing itineraries, fill up their trips quickly, build up their client base faster and make guiding a successful and sustainable career. 57hours aspires to benefit everyone involved–guides, clients, local communities, and our environment–and promote safe, accessible outdoor recreation for all. www.57hours.com
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