On Wednesday 16th February 2022 I presented a live update of the changes that are happening within the Walking Club for 2022. I appreciate not everyone was able to attend the meeting, therefore you can watch the replay at the bottom of this blog (or click here). I also appreciate that not everyone has 45 mins to watch a video, therefore I have summarised the changes in this not so quick blog for you.
WHY ARE THINGS CHANGING?
There are a variety of reasons why the club is making some changes. Since Covid, we have begun to realise that the group walks are so much nicer with smaller numbers. We do not get bottlenecked as often, we tend to talk to more people when the numbers are smaller, so the decision has been made to stick with groups of c15 people per walk.
Our numbers are increasing each week, so sticking with just 15 people means that we get fully booked very quickly. So our solution is to put on more walks. Yes, we have 34 walks scheduled for March 2022!
Another reason for the change is that the club should be for all abilities. From the beginner to the experienced walker. From fast walkers to more social or unhurried walks.
I announced in the presentation that I do not want a big business. I do not want staff, or to franchise the business. But if AG doesn't grow then it will become static and go backwards. With this in mind, I have a solution to cut my admin so that I can cope with the growing pains.
I truly believe that AG is more than just a walking group. As well as the obvious benefits of physical health, AG is a support network, it helps build friendships, helps conquer loneliness, builds confidence and good mental health. No one is made to feel unwelcome. We do not have cliques within the group and we encourage fun and laughter.
#1 – INTRODUCTION OF SAPPHIRE WALKS (STARTING IN MARCH)
The sapphire walks help tick the box for “our walks are for all abilities”. These will be headed up by Tina Pamplin and will be geared towards the beginner hiker. Look out for the blue coloured walks.
These walks will usually be on a Thursday evening and a Sunday morning. The sapphire walks are inclusive of your club membership.
#2 – INTRODUCTION OF RAPID RAMBLES (STARTING IN MARCH)
The Rapid Rambles will either be a “rapid” walk (16-19 min miles) OR a “ramble” walk (10-20 miles). Thanks to Emily Wright (a local Ultra Hiker) who will be leading a lot of these walks, along with other established walk leaders. Keep an eye out for all magenta coloured walks.
These walks will usually be on a Thursday evening, or odd days in the week, or a weekend morning. The rapid rambles are inclusive of your membership.
#3 – REGULAR WALKS WILL REMAIN THE SAME
All walks that are coloured with the AG green, will be your normal paced walks. These will continue on a Monday night and once in the week. Michael & Shirley's walks and also the dog clinic walks will be classed as regular walks. The regular walks are inclusive of your membership.
#4 – ORANGE WALKS WILL NOW ALWAYS BE CHARGEABLE.
If you see an “orange” walk then you will know that these are now chargeable. They are usually somewhere different that involves travelling and perhaps overnight accommodation. It may be climbing Snowdon, a weekend in the Cotswolds or Stonehenge etc. They will range in price, starting from £10. The orange walks will be exclusive to those in the AG Orange Club (you get automatic access to the orange club if you have booked a walking holiday with AG). Two months before the event we release the tickets to AG regular club members and the public (if we have tickets left). Discounts are available for Orange and Regular club members.
#5 – INTRODUCING “COLLECTIONS” TO MAKE LIFE EASIER
To make life a little bit easier we have introduced “collections” on the event listings. For example, if you only wanted to see the “morning Miracle Walks” then simply click the yellow morning miracle collection and this sorts the walks for you into one list for just the morning walks.
#6 – GOODBYE TO THE WALK REMINDER EMAIL
The decision has been made to cut my administration tasks as it was becoming rather overwhelming. The first task was to say goodbye to the email that I create the day before a walk. With 34 walks in March it was just becoming silly. So all important information is now on the event details which you will see when you book the event. From the What3Words link, to the round robin question.
- You will receive one automated email from Eventbrite with your ticket details.
- The second automted email is also sent from Eventbrite two days before as a reminder.
- You will only receive a non-automated email from me if the event has been cancelled, or if there are specific details that you need to know (such as orange walks where communication is essential).
- Round Robin questions are now being created by the walk leaders. Watch out for some funny ones in March!
#7 – DAVE & ERNIE
Dave is now a familiar sight on an AG walk and it is the name of the AG Van. The number plate starts with DV and the name Dave was inherited from the previous owner. In addition, the first four letter of “Adventure” is an anagram of Dave. Ernie is the friendly name that has been given to the hot water urn. (I can see your eyes rolling!).
- Dave will only be present when I am attending a walk.
- The hot drinks and snacks provided are free of charge.
- But, there is a donatoin pot where money helps go towards the replenishment of the stock.
- You can also donate in other ways, such as purchasing coffee sachets, cup cakes, chocolates etc. Every little helps.
- We also sell merchandise, and new things are added all the time. For example, Chris from Chase Pawfections makes cute little dog whistles which we will sell, and I have received a new supply of boot bags this last week.
#8 – PRICE CHANGES
As you can tell by the prices, this is certainly not a big money-making business! I am pleased to say that the prices have not changed for members. Those who have been with me for a while will keep their grandfather package of just £8 a month, and everyone else is on £10 a month. Some people have swapped their membership to an annual package (£96 for the year) – if you wish to do this then just let me know.
The PAYG walks have been increased by 10p a walk. Rather than £4 + Eventbrite fee = £4.90, we are now charging £5 a walk (all-inclusive). We will continue with the two free walks as a try before you buy.
I personally feel that this is incredibly good value for money, especially with over 30 walks a month available to choose from. I hope you agree.
#9 – INTRODUCING REFER-A-FRIEND SCHEME
Now that we have so many walks, I need to make sure we have bums on seats. As an incentive, I am introducing a “refer a friend” scheme. For every person that you introduce to the club, you will receive a free pair of Bridgdale Hiking Socks (or something from the merch store of equivalent value). The only rules are that the new member must have been a paying member for 3 months and the scheme does not apply for returning members.
#10 – INTRODUCING SELF GUIDED WALKING HOLIDAYS
We appreciate that not everyone likes to go on a walking holiday with a group. We have teamed up with Arc Adventures and will be launching self-guided walks in the coming weeks and months. They will all be familiar walks such as Hadrian's Wall, The West Highland Way, The Cotswolds Way, The South Downs Way, Camino Pyrenees, Camino La Rioja etc. These packages will include accommodation, luggage transfers, flights (if applicable), private transfers, guide books, daily walking itinerary with maps and tips, kit lists etc. I'm very excited about launching these!
LEAVING THE BEST UNTIL LAST – A BIG THANK YOU!
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported the club over the last two years. We are now getting back on our feet and the future is looking rosy. A big special thank you to all the walk leaders who, without you guys, I most certainly would not have a business. Love you all loads.