Since 1979, RAC's parent company ROW Adventures has delivered unique, innovative adventure-travel tours worldwide. During this time we have served over 200,000 guests from the Galapagos Islands to Idaho whitewater rafting. We have been named annually by National Geographic as one of the "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth"...and we are right in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho!
The ROW Adventure Center was an idea of the founders, Peter Grubb and Betsy Bowen, for many years. "We wanted to bring our years of experience in adventure travel home!" explains Peter. The ROW Adventure Center now operates all of the local activities in North Idaho for ROW Adventures.
If you would like to know more about ROW Adventures, who we are, and what we are about, Peter was recently interviewed and his comments are below.
Name two ways your business has had a positive impact on the community
Every year since our beginning in 1979, we’ve taken several hundred local residents on our rafting, canoeing, and adventure-combination trips. In so doing, we have introduced thousands of local residents to the “Near Nature – Near Perfect” theme by taking them outdoors to experience firsthand the natural wonders we have near Spokane. We have given them stories to tell, memories to keep, and a day to connect with family, friends, and nature. We believe that our most important role is introducing people to the outdoors and by deepening their understanding and appreciation, helping to create more advocates for the protection and conservation of these resources, be they rivers, forests, trails, or lakes. Our mission is “Sharing Nature – Enriching Lives” and we believe we have indeed enriched the lives of many local residents and in turn, the community. As well, we have introduced many visitors to the beauty of our local natural areas and given them a positive experience, causing many to return to our region once or twice more to go on other trips.
Secondly, we have been a generous supporter of many local charities. Perhaps most noteworthy was our first annual “Raft for the Cure” trip in 2008 that raised $5000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation in the battle against breast cancer. We’ve made this an annual event in order to continue support of the Komen Foundation. Also, we run an annual “Raft to Remember” as a fundraiser for the Northwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition to these events, we donate around $15,000 in the form of trips or stays at our River Dance Lodge that local charity and conservation groups use for fundraising. In addition to donating money and trips, we also donate time. Peter Grubb serves on the Board of the Coeur d’Alene CVB and Idaho’s statewide river conservation group, Idaho Rivers United, is active in the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association, and occasionally travels to Washington, D.C. to lobby for conservation legislation.
Describe how your business “differentiates” itself from other organizations in the same industry
1) We provide a level of guest service that is second to none. We have created a culture at ROW Adventures to always have a “can do” attitude about things, whether they are requests from guests or internal challenges. As an example, on our wilderness trips, we have a cargo boat and crew that travel ahead of the group to set up camp, including guest tents. We provide a level of training and expect a level of performance from our entire staff, from office to guides to support personnel that exceeds what is the norm in our industry.
2) Over 80% of our guide staff are “Certified Interpretive Guides” through the National Association of Interpretation. This training teaches them how to more effectively communicate to our guests about the natural and cultural history of the areas we visit. The goal in this is to connect our guests to the resources we visit (rivers, trails, lakes, etc.) in a way that is relevant and personally meaningful. In other words, we do our best to enrich the experience of our guests through excellence in natural and cultural history interpretation.
3) There is a very real spirit of innovation at ROW Adventures. We were the first to run commercial rafting trips on the Moyie (1982) and the St. Joe (1986) and are continually introducing new trips and new ideas. We expanded internationally in 1984 and have added new river trips and new destinations every year. We introduced our “River Soul Journeys” that combine rafting with journaling, meditation, and yoga in 2004; introduced the concept of raft-supported hiking trips in 1990; built our own rustic luxury log cabin resort in 2005 and new for 2009 is our Whitewater Culinary Series which are rafting trips where people come to learn how to create gourmet meals in a wilderness setting. Also new in 2009 is the introduction of an entirely new local Spokane/ Coeur d’Alene area operation of half-day and full-day adventures. We are investing over $100,000 in near gear and equipment and will be conducting rafting and kayaking trips on the Spokane River, bike tours on the area’s biking trails, hiking trips, corporate team building, and more. Our goal is to be the one-stop source for area adventures and outdoor activities. In addition, we’ll have combination trips that include two or more of these activities on the same tour. This new division will provide a number of new jobs during a time when that is especially important.
4) Finally, we remain an organization with active leadership from the original founder Peter Grubb and his wife and partner Betsy Bowen.
What kind of recognition and/or awards has your business received in the last five years? Please lis
1) National Geographic Adventure Magazine’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.” Included in this prestigious list in 2008 (first year of inception) and 2009. In the Magazine’s own words: HOW WE DID IT: The Methodology Using National Geographic ADVENTURE’s global outfitter database and with assistance from Sustainable Travel International, The Adventure Travel Trade Association, The International Ecotourism Society, and other travel and tourism organizations, we reached out to hundreds of tour companies around the world. The outfitters were asked to complete a comprehensive, 30-question survey. Each survey was scored from 1-100 in each of the following categories: Education, Sustainability, Quality of Service, and Spirit of Adventure. Researchers then randomly interviewed client references for every company based on the same categories and generated a fifth score, also between 1 and 100. Each outfitter’s overall score represents the average of these five scores. A team of ADVENTURE editors and travel experts then vetted those with overall scores of 85 and above. From this pool of candidates, we identified the best adventure travel companies, which are profiled here.
2) National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “Tours of a Lifetime” list, 2006, 2007, and 2008. (Likely to be on this same list in 2009.) From a press release: PRLog (Press Release) – May 08, 2008 – COEUR D\'ALENE, ID – Superlative Idaho, a multisport adventure vacation from ROW Adventures, has been named to National Geographic Traveler magazine\'s 2008 Tours of a Lifetime. The magazine\'s editorial team combed the world to find the 50 most authentic, innovative, best-guided, and most sustainable trips for its third annual list.
3) Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce “Impact Award” 2008, for a business that makes a significant contribution to the local economy. This award is given in recognition particularly of businesses that could be located anywhere they choose but have chosen to stay in Coeur d’Alene and have provided employment and a positive influence in the community.
What has been your organization's greatest accomplishment?
Staying in business for 30 years is no simple feat. (Staying in business and having the same two married people at the helm is also rather rare!) Beyond that, I believe our greatest accomplishment is that we have grown from a small business guided by one person (Peter Grubb) to a much larger business that has a life of its own and has been shaped by and continues to be directed by many of the employees. It has taken a team effort to become the Spokane Area's (and Idaho's) largest adventure travel company. When one looks at ROW Adventures today, one can see the influence and great ideas of many minds. We have a rock-solid management and office team with several key players who have been with us for over a decade.
We have always tried to be a socially responsible employer, providing benefits (such as health insurance, a 401K, FSA, and generous vacation time) that are rare in our industry. We have also embraced the concepts of responsible and sustainable travel and operated in an environmentally responsible manner. We have a team of guides who believe in our mission and work hard to achieve it every day they are in the field. As a company we have always made the fulfillment of our employees a high priority and, I believe, we have contributed to the growth and well-being of many of them over the years. Finally, there is a strong sense of family and belonging at ROW Adventures and pride in what we do, knowing that our mission of "Sharing Nature- Enriching Lives" is something that has a positive impact on the lives of our guests and the world at large. Thank you for this opportunity. We are honored that we are being considered.