Networking in the Wilderness — Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Networking in the Wilderness

After visiting Miminiska with my brother during the summer of 2005 I developed the idea of using a “Fly-in Fishing Trip” as an incentive for clients to expand their business with our firm. So in 2006, we created an earn-back program for our customer base. It was a 5 night stay at Mim. Of the 30 who signed up, 24 participated. Our team filled the remaining spots bringing the group back up to 30 in total. The first trip was in August and our big major industry tradeshow was in November. Everyone’s business went through the roof with us.

We learned some important lessons that first year

  • Upon departing from Mim, every single participant said they’d had the best time of their adult lives! Honest!
  • We became extraordinarily tight with everyone on the trip; achieving a closeness that went way beyond what one could develop using customer golf days, or “couples destinations” at fancy hotels and beach resorts.
  • 100% of the participants demanded we run the same trip next year and everyone wanted to participate again.
  • We also used this trip as an incentive for our staff and outside sales people. The sales guys are ticked off when they don’t achieve their trip qualification, and they work hard to get it.
  • Any participant returning from one of these adventures where they spend 4 or 5 days and nights with suppliers, competitors, or simply fellow industry participants will come back much, much smarter and well informed then when they arrived by virtue of the talk and interchange between all levels of business. They all thank us for that unanticipated result

By 2008 there were three companies all going together. Our groups got up to 55 or 60 and we had to break the event into waves. Last year for example, we hosted 3 waves at Striker’s Point. Wave 1 was for 4 nights, wave 2 was for 5 nights (for the more serious anglers, and repeat participants), wave 3 was for 4 nights. I think our group total was 38 folks in 2013. Conducting on of these large customer events is A LOT of work. The logistics are quite involved, but year after year Alan and Krista have stepped in and filled the gap when one of our customers needed special attention.

Our event became the talk of the industry, and we’ve got all kinds of related folks asking how they can participate and learn more about the fun. We’ve set ourselves apart from our competition by becoming friends and utilizing Wilderness North as a vehicle for participants to have that great “once in a lifetime” experience (except virtually all of them end up wanting to come back).

In 2013, we invited the most senior director of our largest competitor. It was great! Honest! It took some persuading to get him to join us, but once in the boat he became just like another one of the guys chasing that big fish. Why do this? First of all it clears the way for open ‘non-illegal’ dialogue that can kill rumours and false information. Secondly, if you ever spend a day in a boat or a few nights as a cabin mate with your largest competitor, both of you will elevate the level of ethics in your day to day competition. What more can one ask of your competition than to have an ethical relationship based upon a friendship and mutual trust?

We’re going again in 2014, and even before ‘rolling out the program’ our list is 36 people long -both guys and gals. In fact we will probably have a high of gals, 3 or 4, for 2014. Some come and some go, but I can guarantee (based on our long experience doing this) our group will top 40 again this year.

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