We surveyed 100+ active mountain guides on how their businesses have been affected by the pandemic. The results paint a grim picture. Here’s what we found.
We recently surveyed more than 100 independent mountain guides to explore the effects of COVID-19, and the results paint a grim picture for the near future of the outdoor guiding industry. This abrupt halt in guided travel resulted in a financial blow to many. Most future trip bookings have been outright cancelled with no plans to reschedule, with the majority of guides anticipating that the industry and salaries will not return to normal until December 2020 or later.
Overwhelming sentiment indicated that fear from would-be clients might prevent guides from getting back to work long after other small businesses have reopened. Most of the guides surveyed facilitated their last guided trip in February or March 2020, meaning they have been out of work for two to three months. Most respondents say they have already lost 75-100% of their guiding income in 2020. Overwhelming sentiment indicated that fear from would-be clients might prevent guides from getting back to work long after other small businesses have reopened.
Here is a detailed account of our survey results and key findings:
A long road ahead
There’s no doubt that when the pandemic is over, things are going to look a lot different. 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 that the stay-at-home measures are appropriate at this time, nearly two-thirds of them believe it will be safe to start taking clients back out this summer and that it’s unlikely to contract the virus outdoors with proper screening and social distancing measures.
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. Frequent equipment disinfection, mask-wearing, mandatory health testing, and physical distancing will all be part of the new normal. Group sizes are going to get smaller, and some guides are going so far as to start by only booking return clients with whom they’re already well acquainted. Sadly, high-fives and hugs after a trip might be a thing of the past.
We’re committed to ensuring that guides get back on their feet. 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.”