Canmore Cave Tours may have been around for the last 25 years, but it’s only in the past four-and-a-half years that business has really taken off and now it seems people are taking notice.
Earlier this week the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction named the company as a finalist for the 2018 small business award of distinction.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Adam Walker, who took over the company from his friend Charles Yonge in 2013.
“I didn’t really expect that kind of recognition, so it’s a bit of a surprise.”
While the sudden attention might be unexpected, it’s no surprise given the company’s growth in recent years.
Since Walker took over the company in June 2013, the company has nearly doubled the number of customers it takes annually into Rat’s Nest Cave.
“We’ve seen pretty substantial growth. We went from about 3,500 people a year to 6,000 people a year and we’ve gone from one full-time staff member to four full-time staff members, not including me,” said Walker, who started as a guide for the company in 2007.
He credits the success of his company to several factors, including new partnerships in the community, a surge in visitors to Canmore and the company’s strong social media presence.
“Canmore has done a lot of work in marketing the destination, so to be fair the town has gotten busier in the last few years. But we’ve also made a big shift in how we do our marketing,” said Walker.
In recent years the company has made digital marketing a primary focus to connect with different demographics and people who are further afield.
“When I bought the business we had 32 Trip Advisor reviews and now we have 650 or something like that, so we’re ranked number six in Alberta of things to do, behind things like the Royal Tyrrell Museum,” said Walker, referring to the paleontology museum in Drumheller.
He also credits word of mouth as an important factor, although it’s not as easy as it might seem.
“There are still people in Canmore that don’t even know we exist, so it’s an uphill battle,” said Walker.
Another challenge has been letting people know the company operates year-round, rain, snow or shine.
To get the message out, the company recently started introducing unique events during the shoulder season, such as its Spirit in the Mountain concert-series last weekend.
“We started doing these odd things that are getting a lot of attention and that’s getting our name out and people realize we’re still operating in winter,” said Walker.
Canmore Cave Tours is one of five finalists across the province for the small business award of distinction, which will be announced in Edmonton on March 2, 2018.