Three years ago I was lucky enough to score a job in Adventure Tourism working for a New Zealand Bungy Jumping company. For those three years I was flipping off of bridges, loving my job and helping people overcome fears they never thought they could. Unfortunately, my job was one of the many that fell victim to the effects of Covid-19 in the Tourism industry worldwide. I may be hanging up my harness for now but why not jot down whatever wisdom I have as I head out the door. The good news is that the industry won't suffer forever! Thinking about working in Tourism in the future? Here are my six insider secrets about working in Adventure Tourism based on my experience in the industry.
Getting a Job in Adventure Tourism
When I scored my job in Adventure Tourism I had no formal qualifications or experience. I brought my good attitude and customer service experience (from my part-time job in a cinema) to my interview and it seems that was enough! The skills and training for most roles are very niche and require specific on-the-job instruction which means you often learn the relevant skills after you get hired.
If you have studied at a Hospitality/ Tourism School this is definitely beneficial and you will presumably be chosen over someone without this education yet multiple crew are proof that this is not essential. One of our videographers was a qualified chef!
Discounts and Famils at other Tourist Attractions
Famil: an activity free of charge to familiarize yourself with the experience so you can pass on your good reviews and recommendations to your own customers.
The Adventure Tourism industry is one big badass family! If you are full-time crew and want to experience other awesome activities around the country, your managers can ask the other company for an industry discount or famil on your behalf. In exchange for free experiences we would always take a big bag of treats for the crew that are hosting us. The Summer months of December-February is ‘blackout’ season where you cannot ask for famils since the industry is generally too busy with paying customers.
Any official training you need is paid for
At my job you could up-skill like crazy! I was rostered on five different roles that I learnt on the job; action photography, videography, tour guiding, Bungy operations and frontline sales. However, if there is outsourced training that I needed the company happily paid for it in order to have a great crew. This will obviously vary from job to job but examples I have from my experience are First Aid, Fire Extinguisher training, In Water Survival Certificate, Drivers’ License P Endorsement and Jump Master Certificate (uni-level qualification).
Working Weekends and Drug Testing
This is not a traditional 9-5! Be prepared to work weekends, public holidays and some weird hours for one-off groups or events. Yes, that means Easter weekend, Christmas Eve etc! On the bright side, your days off are weekdays so the supermarkets and shops are quieter and you can also take holidays outside of the peak travel times when everyone else is at work or school!
If you’re in a safety sensitive role, you have to be cool with random drug and alcohol testing with zero tolerance (expect a test on New Years Day or after the work Christmas party!).
A pretty big misconception is that most people only work in Adventure Tourism as a summer job or outside of studies; not always true! At my site we did have summer crew but the full-timers stuck around anywhere from four to 20 years; these folks started as regular operations crew and are now managing the company.
Adventure tourism helps you hone the golden skill; customer service. You won’t survive in Tourism if you don't like people but this is also true in many jobs you will have in the future. If you have experience showing you can work with and serve any variety of people at the highest level, future employers will love it.
Health and Safety has also grown to be a huge part of any business in recent years and you cannot get a higher level of health and safety experience than in Adventure Tourism - it often gives meaning to the saying, ‘I have your life in my hands’.
So whether you make a long term career out of Adventure Tourism or only work in the industry for a short time, the skills you learn and work experience will be invaluable to future employers all around the world (just make sure you get a good reference from your boss).
Do you love your job?
A question I was asked literally everyday by customers who envy what I do. The answer? Absolutely. Even though my Mum thought I was crazy and my job required a safety harness, most days we had so much fun that it felt like hanging out with mates and just doing cool shit. Every job has it’s down days but I mostly consider myself lucky that I could get out of bed in the morning for three years and want to go to work.