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Reinventing a River Rafting Business

I always come back to what Jim Fielder, owner of Zig Zag River Runners, told me years ago during the first recession my whitewater rafting company, Orion River Rafting, weathered. He said (and I am paraphrasing), "I read during the Great Depression, when most Americans didn't have two dimes to rub together, rollercoaster rides at state fairs continued to do a booming business. Rafting will have the same resiliency."

And, he was right. Through that recession and the next one. We didn't have to add paintball and donkey rides and perform a musical, or bring in a dance troupe, during lunch.

But, over the decades, Orion River Rafting has had to stay small enough and nimble enough to remain afloat during the tighter economic times. Reinvention, such as adding other kinds of adventure activities, has been an aspect of the business plan, but the economy has never been the driving force behind a desire to change.

Changing just for the sake of maximizing profit or looking toward profitability would seem to cheapen the experience. From my point of view, the value-added needs to be both tangible and intangible. It needs to fit within our Mission statement.

So, I doubt Orion River Rafting will be adding any ziplines any time soon, but I wish those West Virginia operators the best of luck with their new operations.

in reference to:

"Rafting companies are reinventing themselves"
- Rafting companies are reinventing themselves » Today's Front Page » The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia (view on Google Sidewiki)

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