Behind the Scenes at 37 North Expeditions
Interview and Article by Meaghan E. Duda:
37 North offers trips every weekend, and they currently have 20 trips posted online, with more being announced every day! With so many things going on, it’s hard to imagine all of the work that goes into creating these outdoor expeditions. I wanted to get an inside look at how all the magic happens - So I did a Q&A with founder Danny Collins to get a glimpse into the behind the scenes world at 37 North. If you, like me, are curious about what it takes to bring these trips to life, take a look at what he has to say below!
Q: How do you choose the locations for the adventures? Do you visit all of them before leading trips there?
A: We have the most phenomenal Google Map of all the trip options in the area. We are always adding to this map and use it to generate all our trips. Whenever we find a new trip location we add it to the map generically until we go visit the place or do the hike. Yes - We always do the hikes before the trips are put online!
Q: I heard that you recently spent a whole day exploring as many trails as you could. Can you tell me a little bit more about what you guys did?
A: Spring in the Ozarks is all about the water. We went to a bunch of hidden waterfall gems across Northwest Arkansas to see which ones we want to include in our trips. We look at everything from the road conditions getting to the trails, how the trails are maintained, and of course the final destinations - the waterfalls. Our dog, Aspen, gets the benefit of us exploring the area for new trips, he always enjoys those long days outside!
Q: Your trips conclude in all sorts of fun activities, from wineries and breweries to ice skating. How do you find these cool places and what goes in to booking these activities?
A: All of our days are focused on the outdoors, and that is the non-hiking activities as well. We try to only include breweries/wineries and other activities that has a focus on the outdoors as well. For example, most of the wineries that we include have amazing views and porches and are located off the beaten path. We try to avoid the ones located in cities that people get to visit on their own!
Q: How do you plan the logistics of these trips?
A: I think it would surprise everyone how much time and work there is behind the scenes. Everything from pricing a trip (it’s a long equation) to putting the trips online is a massive undertaking, but it is so much fun doing it! Both Cristina and I have a background in design, so the layout of the trips and the graphics to promote it are very fun for us and we know the importance of details for every step in the process. Other things like transportation are very thought-out as well - everything from which vehicle to take (we own and rent vehicles) to choosing the right locations for bathroom breaks along the longer drives. Nothing goes without thought behind the timeline. We have created great relationships with our partners and try to give them as much notice as possible for reservations, but they are typically so understanding if we add or change things late in the week of the trip.
Q: What does the process look like of designing a custom trip? It seems like you can create any sort of experience for a wide variety of group types. Can you tell me a bit about what that process looks like?
A: Custom trips are so incredibly fun to design. We work hand in hand with the group leader and let them choose as many details as they want. Typically, someone reaches out with their generic desires, such as what activities, dates, how many people, what the event is for, and anything else we should know. We usually then present them with 2/3 event options that have everything from a trip timeline to trip pricing. From there they choose their favorite and we work out the final details, everything from dates to pick up locations!
We do custom trips for anything and everything. We have done corporate outings (day out of the office), bachelorette parties, birthday parties, girl-scout groups, and even University groups. One of our favorite custom trips we have done was with a group of Drury University International students. We took them hiking and camping over their Fall Break. This time is usually spent bored on campus for international students because most go home, but they live too far to go home for 4 days. They also typically do not have vehicles, so they do not get to explore much beyond campus. They had a blast - we hiked, and even set up camp and cooked all meals over a campfire.
I encourage you all to learn more about 37 North for yourself! Feel free to contact us for more information on how to get involved. There are tons of trips available right now to choose from - so come out and join us. Happy Trails!