30 Mar Craggan Outdoors
Craggan Outdoors is an award-winning outdoor activity centre with 60-bed bunkhouse accommodation & a licensed café-venue, based just outside Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairngorms National Park.
The business was originally established in 2003, & was then taken over in 2008 by husband & wife director team Keith & Jill Ballam. The Ballams moved to the Highlands from the south-east of England to escape the suburban commuter lifestyle, to live & work somewhere more conducive to a more fulfilling family life, & to operate a business that had the power to make a real difference to them, their clients, & their community.
Over the years the business has been nominated for numerous awards, & has won several, most recently being recognised as Scotland’s ‘Best Outdoor Adventure Experience’ in the Scottish Outdoor Leisure Awards 2019, as well as being a TripAdvisor ‘Hall of Fame’ member with a 94% rating on the site. The success of the business has been down to a relentless focus on people, with it being first & foremost a customer service business, where a high quality, very well trained staff team deliver high quality outdoor activity focused experiences to clients that choose Craggan Outdoors for its focus on quality provision over quantity of client throughput.
Business owners Keith & Jill are business professionals from prior sales & marketing / commercial & banking careers respectively, & whilst they have a love for the outdoors they are not outdoor professionals, so employ a high quality outdoor careerist as Senior Instructor to manage the day-to-day activity delivery, along with a team of full-time & seasonal instructors that are chosen as much for their attitude, personality & people skills as for their qualifications. An in-depth 2-month training process, focused on business values of safely, first impressions, attention to detail, & high quality ensures that a well drilled team of quality people consistently deliver high quality client experiences.
As a small business, Craggan Outdoors cares for & looks after its staff team, from both the remuneration & pastoral care perspectives, engendering a highly positive team spirit & environment of which the staff enjoy being a part, & which is visible to & commented on regularly by clients, who often choose Craggan Outdoors on recommendation & reputation. Accordingly clients are happy to pay upper mid-to-premium level pricing for guaranteed quality of experiences, that don’t just deliver the activity for which they’ve paid, but are also imbued with a passion for the environment in which they are being conducted, focusing on local nature, history & culture. As a responsible operator, Craggan Outdoors follows & educates clients on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, the Scottish Canoe Association’s Protecting the Environment code of practice, & Scotland’s ‘right to roam’ access legislation.
In addition to its own team & clients, the business also plays a consciously active role in its local community, choosing local suppliers & tradesmen at every opportunity, working collaboratively with other complimentary businesses such as pubs & restaurants, taxi operators & other accommodation providers, both for mutual benefit, & to benefit mutual clients, & regularly donates time & prizes to community initiatives & fundraisers. The business has also played a leading role in retaining & generating positivity within the community through the Covid crisis.
Whilst nobody goes into the outdoor sector to ‘make their fortune’, the business delivers a decent living & lifestyle to its owners & staff, & being an owner-operated independent local business, the turnover that it generates stays almost completely within & benefits the local community, along with the economic multiplier of associated visitor spend from clients that choose the business as a destination / venue for group stays over weekends & longer periods. Overall the return that the business generates for all its many stakeholders can be seen from a holistic perspective to be far more than financial, with conscious & significant impact on physical & mental health, community wellbeing & cohesion, & education in environment, history & culture. Accordingly CragganOutdoors is pleased to be chosen & recognised by Highland Tourism as one of its Conscious Travel hosts.