Friday, October 23, 2015

What to do with the most pristine marine ecosystem in the world ... enjoy it

Imagine a “slow” vacation, on the water in the midst of British Columbia’s most pristine wilderness, you can because you know, there is no better place to rest than on a small wilderness lake in British Columbia - it is a quiet, inherently gentle and healing place to be. The craft you’re on, an easy handling 20’ catamaran with all the comforts – shower, hammock – the smell of coffee brewing, sun coming up and a lazy sail lofting. This is the Tom Sawyer experience, drifting, swimming, fishing, sipping wine, little hiking. This is more than accommodation, more than a boat – it is a complete experience. 
Success in tourism is a process of attracting people to a compelling experience and garnering revenue as a result. There are a number of factors that come to play in developing an offering, the key however, is to have an offering that is widely appealing and is perceived by the targeted clientele as valuable – comparatively so. This concept offers all the ingredients for success in this regard, an offering that is accessible to most and tailorable to the most discerning, with the relative remuneration as a ready opportunity.

Having been involved in the wilderness tourism trade in British Colombia for many years it has become apparent to me that asset utilisation is always challenging in this space. Challenging mainly because assets are targeted to a single activity, in a single region and seasonality comes to play – think ski resort. Like ski resorts, the various offerings at play in the market now; traditional accommodations, recreational vehicles, wilderness lodges, house  rental companies, hut to hut etc., tend to attach an asset to a given location or experience – given that most of the wilderness tourism sector has a seasonal occupancy rate of under 45%, asset utilisation is poor. Because asset utilisation is challenging it is important to do one or all of the following, reduce the cost of the asset commensurate with income generation and or provision for various uses and or provision for multi region application of assets.
The wilderness tourism space is being accessed by a larger cohort of the population interested in the “nature vacation” which is characterised by being a more secularised, multi-channel market space. Given this reality, in designing a business model, one needs to provision for the access to the full scope of the market; in doing so access is gained to a broader market and you provide for migration from one market segment to the other.

Most opportunities related to enjoying the outdoors have a narrow window, a high alpine lake for example is only open for a few months and really only viable for enjoyment for a perhaps six weeks. So mobile accommodation that is absent the requirement of crown lease or fee simple land and that can be deployed at the optimal time and to the optimal location is the answer. British Columbia has as and asset, an abundance of many waterways that provide access to scenic landscapes and the related activities, this provisions an opportunity to offer on water accommodation, accommodation that contributes to the overall experience. The proponent has drawn on several years in the business, experience in shelter design, a general interest in design and a familiarity with heli-transport to develop a business concept having three designs that satisfy various marine recreation opportunities, yet appeal to the growing appreciation for the gentle use of natural systems. These crafts are accommodation, they are in of themselves recreational, they are transport, they are the base to wilderness interaction, they are deployable to the right place at the right time for the maximal exploitation to varied recreational opportunities AND they can be offered at widely varied value offerings to suit a family vacation or to the most discerning fly fishing experience.   

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