The Price of Adventure: Ultimate Challenge Week.

How much does adventure cost?

Not much! A walk in the woods, climbing a hill and jumping in the sea are all free. You don’t have to spend money to head outdoors.

Sometimes you might choose to try a new activity, in an unfamiliar landscape that could require specialist equipment that you don’t want to buy.

Occasionally it’s useful to pay for an adventure experience. Be careful when paying for adventure experiences; sometimes it’s better to avoid the cheapest deal and instead look for quality and value.

What are you paying for?

When you hand over your hard earned cash for an adventure experience you are paying for VAT, staff (your instructor and whoever managed your booking), equipment, logistics (fuel etc), insurance, fixed costs and profit margin in varying proportion e.g.

Coasteering for 8 adults with Land & Wave: £360

VAT  = £60 (this goes to HMRC)
Staff = £140 (two instructors .5 day and a small amount to cover administration)
Logistics, fixed costs and equipment = £72
Profit = £88 (24%)

At Land & Wave a proportion of profit gets reinvested in training and development for coasteering, a proportion is taken as a dividend by the shareholders, most is reinvested back into the company (that’s why Land & Wave has grown quickly and consistently)

Ultimate Challenge Week

We’re really proud of our Ultimate Challenge Week, it’s an epic experience that can help young adults learn a little about themselves, other people and the great outdoors.

We can only offer Ultimate Challenge Week when we have staff and resources available, normally during March and Early April

It’s a 5 day trip with a significant journey/ experience/ challenge/ achievement every day. Ultimate Challenge Week costs £375 per person.

Sometimes new clients quite rightly compare the cost of this 5 day adventure in the great outdoors with 5 day trips offered by PGL and JCA (etc) during the winter. We thought we’d be really open about our costs running the week.

Our normal group size is 16 people: £6000

VAT = £1000
Staff Costs = £1250 (two staff for 5 days)
Accommodation = £1450
Food = £730
Transport = £560
Specialist staff, fixed costs and equipment = £420
Profit = £590 (10%)Fair Competition?

When we sell coasteering in Dorset our competitors can offer cheaper prices (sometimes as low as £19); that’s good – it means that we have to work hard and be innovative to show our clients why they should book with us instead. Clients can choose a price point and an experience that works for them and their budget.

When we sell residential experiences we often find ourselves competing with companies that pay less than the living wage (normally by employing junior staff as ‘volunteers’ or ‘apprentices’).

The biggest single market in the Outdoor and Adventure sector is schools residentials. Large companies competing with each other for that market pay the majority of their staff less than a living wage by recruiting them as ‘apprentices’.

At the time of writing large, multi centre, activity companies are offering two night residential experiences for £49 – £66 and a 4 night residential experience for £109 – £149 during January – April (inclusive) 2018.

These prices are great for clients, some young people will have a great time for a really low cost.

Low cost activity holidays from big, multi centre, companies are sometimes used for price comparison when prospective customers consider real adventure experiences.

Rhetoric about low pay in the outdoor, adventure sector is common; we’d argue that until such time that large companies are prevented from using apprentices as the bulk of their staff teams, wages will stay lower than the UK average.

Many small – mid sized adventure companies cannot pay what experienced and qualified staff deserve while they are forced to compete with large, multi centre, activity companies that, mostly, employ apprentices.

Perhaps large, multi centre, activity companies normally employ apprentices so they do not have to pay them minimum wage, rather than them having a strong desire to provide junior staff with quality training?

Land & Wave is based in Dorset, business is good, we’ve got lots of wonderful school clients that we love working with.

Sometimes we have to explain why our school trips cost a bit more than trips with big activity companies; that’s a good thing – we love talking about how amazing real adventure in Dorset is.

Here’s some more info about wages in the outdoors (inc what we pay our staff).