Why is “About Us” actually “About You”?

I recently read an article about companies “About Us” pages on their websites. The thrust of the article was that so many were boring pages that not only told little of any real “substance” about themselves, but also how little of what they did tell was of any consequence to their customers.

This Got Me to Thinking

I thought to myself about all the people that have come through River Valley over the years, and how many see or experience anything more than the face value. An example of this are passengers on Kiwi Experience buses.

If you are travelling on one of these buses and stay at River Valley, you are here about 20 hours. Some people go rafting, some go horse trekking, and many sit around the Lodge doing nothing, waiting for the bus to depart so they can get to the next stop.

If all you see of River Valley is the inside of a Lodge, or a quick blast down an exciting bit of white water, it is likely your River Valley experience could be pretty shallow, exciting, but still shallow.

But that is the nature of most tourism experiences is it not? What is the next thing to tick off the list?

What do these passengers really know “About Us”, and why should it even make any difference to their experience?

“About Us” then is the things that make us unique, and how this contributes to a guest’s experience at River Valley.

So let’s have a go at this, starting with Rafting.

Three Generations of Rafting Guides

Brian Sage, with his wife Robin, who in 1982 were the original founders of River Valley, was a river guide, mostly I think to escape being a farmer. Brian can still be seen about the place on a daily basis, driving shuttle vehicles now rather than rafts.

His daughter, Nicola was also a river guide after her three daughters had got to a stage of looking after themselves. Her husband, another Brian, the author of this article, has been a river guide since 1986.

Their eldest daughter, Janey, is now a part time river guide which she juggles between being a mother herself and looking after horses. Her partner Tom is a river guide.

Having three generations of guides within the family is unique, probably on a global scale, but what does it mean to you the reader?

What it means is that when you take a river trip with River Valley, it is not some faceless corporate behind the scenes, pulling the strings with profit as the only focus. Instead it is a family who are sharing what to them is a passion, a multi generational passion, a passion to share what is an extremely important part of their lives.

To wake up in the morning beside a free flowing river, mist rising from the surrounding hills, the smell of fresh coffee on the fire, is even after 25 years guiding something that still excites the senses. Floating down a beautiful pool in a river canyon, is something that feels just as precious as guiding a raft through a Grade 5 rapid.

Precious is such a good word to describe it. Something that is so precious can never be just a job.

Natural Horses in a Natural World

A more recent development at River Valley has been the focus on Natural Horsemanship in training the horses at the Stables

Nicola has taken this on board and is again deeply passionate about it. She has attended numerous courses, workshops and seminars to extend her knowledge. The more she learns, the more passionate she becomes, sharing her knowledge with Janey and the trekking guides.

What does Natural Horsemanship mean to you?

This passion for Natural Horsemanship expresses itself in horses that are responsive and free moving for their riders, giving people on treks a far more rewarding experience. The look of delight on people’s faces as they find that the horse does what they want is a huge payoff in itself.

Each day now, Nicola comes back in from a ride and says, “The horses were so good!” – seemingly surprised that the effort she has put in is giving such a rich reward.

Back to “About Us”

So there you have it, two major points of uniqueness, and what it may mean to you when you do an activity or stay with us.

In writing this article it would have been easy to talk about the physical points of difference, such as the beautiful scenery, or one of the world’s top half day Grade 5 rafting trips, and so on.

However that is not really what our “About Us” is all about. For us it is about people, and passion, and sharing things that are precious. Things of the Heart.

So back to those Kiwi Experience passengers. Does this message of passion, people and sharing enrich their experience? I suppose the honest answer is – sometimes. That is the nature of what we do, and we have to accept that.

This morning, a slightly chilly morning, I got up and thought about sharing my love of being on a river by writing about it in this article. And Nicola? She was outside, spending time with the horses.

That is the “About Us” of River Valley.

Brian Sage handing out the sausages. After rafting BBQ at the Homestead in pre Lodge days – mid 1980s

Building the first stage of River Valley Lodge – 1987. Brian Megaw in the red shirt.

Brian and Nicola with the brand new Lodge wall mural – 1992

The early days of horse trekking at River Valley. No helmets in those days – mid 1990s

The next generation being introduced to the family business. Janey with Isla on Rico – 2011

Janey Megaw guiding in New Rapid – approx. 2003