The Big Idea: Local love: offering adventure for all

Longtime Whistler resident, Joey Houssian, has been steadily building an institution of outdoor adventure as owner and president of The Adventure Group (TAG).

Houssian has built a business based on exciting experiences, offering treetop adventures, RZRs, snowmobiles and snowshoeing in addition to owning and operating Superfly Ziplines and Wedge Rafting — think of Houssian as your fairy godfather of experiences beyond the ordinary.

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As winners in the Winter 2015 ServeUs Challenge (Whistler Chamber’s secret shopper program) and recipients of the Service Excellence Award for large business at the Whistler Excellence Awards in June, The Adventure Group has established themselves as industry leaders in guest experience. When it comes to caring for their community, they are just as committed to creating world-class experiences for those close to home.

As true ambassadors of adventure, the TAG team are spreading their stoke by developing programs and events specifically for people who live in the Sea to Sky corridor. Programs that offer (and budget for) opportunities for residents to try out a tour or enjoy an epic community party unlock unique ways for locals to play. As successful members of our community this is their way of saying thank you.

“So often in our business we think about the visitors to Whistler and at TAG we really want to do something meaningful, consistent and high impact for our locals,” said Joey Houssian. “Our big idea is really a “thank you” to the community we love, live and work in — but we have formalized it.”

Locals try (and fly) free

Once a year in late spring a line up of locals stretches down the Village stroll to the doors of the TAG offices. These keeners are queuing up for the annual spring promotion that gives away 500 RZR and 500 Superfly Zipline experiences to locals. It’s a perk that always gets snapped up within hours.

“The first year we did it (summer 2012) people were lined up outside our office at six in the morning with thermoses of coffee and lawn chairs, waiting for the office to open at eight,” recalls Houssian. “I am always amazed at how many friends, even family, have participated in this over the years.”

For Houssian, it is essential that this be available to anyone living here — it is important to offer more than a familiarity tour focused solely on front line, industry or sales people. To truly thank his community as a whole, he offers a “no-strings-attached freebie” to anyone who lives in Squamish, Whistler or Pemberton.

Hosting Whistler’s infamous industry event

It is in Whistler’s nature to crank the awesome dial when sharing adventures with friends. This character really comes alive when adventure comes in the form of friendly competition on a favourite waterway and an epic after party in the forest.  

The Whitewater Rodeo is an annual event hosted by Wedge Rafting that celebrates locals and local companies. It’s a day circled on many local calendars.  

Priced not for profit, but for participation as a community event, companies and groups of friends team up for a rafting rodeo that includes Sumo Wrestling, boat flips and a race down the Green River followed by an after party at TAG’s Cougar Mountain Base camp with dinner, drinks and a world-class DJ.

“I always admired and respected the job Citta’ did with the Citta Challenge and this is a similar type of event that carries a similar spirit,” said Houssian.

The tradition is a fun opportunity for the whole TAG team to connect to their community and have a spectacular time putting on and participating in a legendary annual event.

“This event has been going on long before my time, but I have continued the tradition and supported its growth. Our 2015 Rodeo was the biggest ever with 350 people registered in the sold-out event,” said Houssian. “We are discussing ways of increasing capacity further next year to keep up with demand.”

The benefits of giving back range from raising your business profile and building social capital to earning respect in your community and boosting employee morale. While all these benefits are important to a healthy business, Houssian’s motivation is purely to make the community that hosts his company an even better place to live.

Joey Houssian on saying thank you to those who make Whistler special

“The reason we do this is simple. It’s a genuine ‘thank you’ to the people who make Whistler so special. And I know how fun it is to go and play in our own backyard. Sometimes we forget to do that and so this is a way that we can help people get out and have some fun doing something they might not otherwise do.”

Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector.

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