Explore Squamish - May 08, 2020

Covid Chronicles - Canadian Outback Rafting Company

Photo: Canadian Outback Rafting

What is the name of your business?

Canadian Outback Rafting Company

Tell us about your business pre-COVID-19.

We have been a cornerstone of the Squamish tourism community since the early 90's. We offer a mixture of day and overnight rafting trips here in Squamish. We've been heavily involved with programs like the firefighters burn camp and provide hundreds of donated rafting gift certificates to local charities. Prior to COVID-19 we had a peak season staff of about 40

Tell us about the impact COVID-19 has had on your business.

We have had to shut down and lay off all members of the team.

Do you think your business will make it through this? How long can you hold on for?

We will make it through this, and every decision we have made from day 1 has been based on lasting as long as necessary until re-opening.

What was the hardest part of temporarily closing your business? OR, if you managed to remain open, what has been the hardest part so far, for your business?

The largest impact has been refunding all of the bookings we worked for over the winter. I do believe the refunds are fully deserved, but the expenses of generating those bookings and the staff hours contributed to them will never be recouped. It is one thing to have all income stop, but to also have a massive negative outflow was very rapid and unexpected.

How has COVID-19 affected you personally?

Both myself and my fiance have been laid off from our jobs and that was hard. Many friends and colleagues have been struggling through the same challenges and it has been hard to see their struggles, while also uplifting to share support amongst ourselves.

How has your business innovated or pivoted to during this time?

We have worked together with the rafting association to develop province-wide protocols that will help the industry re-open as part of the phase 2 openings. We are also implementing company-specific protocols to protect staff and clients when we do re-open. We also have purchase options like a "buy your own boat" so you will only raft with those in your bubble.

Do you have any tips that you can share that could help other Squamish businesses with the focus of keeping their staff and customers safe while delivering their products or services?

Be kind, be calm, stay safe.

How can the community of Squamish support you and your business as we move through this unprecedented time?

We are currently selling never expiring gift certificates through our website and we have fully refundable booking options available starting late-May. This is a great time to get a local's price on rafting.