BY JIM SHOCKEY JUNE 16, 2021
The Canadian border will likely open in the next few weeks, but even with relaxed travel restrictions, the thousands of American hunters who booked trips for last year will have a difficult time making their dream hunts happen this year. Meanwhile, the thousands of Canadian outfitters who fought to keep their businesses alive last year, are still hanging by a thread. We have only begun to see the detrimental impacts of the border closure on our hunting and outfitting industry in Canada. Here’s a look at two perspectives—the client’s and the outfitter’s—plus, what you should know if you have a hunt booked.
The Client Perspective
You read about hunting in Canada, in Outdoor Life magazine, or maybe saw it featured on a TV show. You thought about it for a few weeks (or maybe years), ran the idea past your spouse, who gave you their blessing, discussed it with your best hunting buddy and when they agreed to come along, you picked up the phone and called the Canadian outfitter. The outfitter seemed honest and sincere, had a great reputation and their references checked out, so you booked the hunt.
You sent the 50 percent deposit check and two weeks later received the “hunt contract” in the mail, which you immediately signed, without reading it thoroughly, and mailed it back. Done deal. A few months later, early in 2020, you and your buddy sent the balance of your hunt price to the outfitter, as the contract stipulated and booked your flights.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian government closed the border to “non-essential” travel, meaning you, as a tourist, could not go on your scheduled hunt. At first you were upset about your hunting holiday being affected, but it was obvious there wasn’t anything you could do about it. You and your buddy read the contract more closely now and seeing that the contract clearly stated that “deposits” and “funds paid in full” were “non-refundable,” you contacted the outfitter and told them not to worry about the money, you and your buddy were willing to simply let the outfitter “roll the hunt over” to the following year.
You called the airline and while they wouldn’t return your money, they would give you a credit for the flight costs. They also said that when you rebooked the same flights down the road, you would have to book at the new prices, not the old price you originally paid. Fair enough.
COVID would pass and you wanted to do the hunt anyway, so it was not the end of your dream hunt, just a postponement.
The Canadian Outfitter Perspective
You read about the hunt in Outdoor Life magazine when you were younger, and maybe you saw it on TV. The wonder of the wild lands and the majesty of the animals, stuck with you and for years. You dreamed about making your living working as a guide and outfitter, taking clients on wilderness hunts and making client’s own dreams come true.
Eventually the day came when you could not ignore your calling any longer. You discussed it with your spouse and with their blessing, you mortgaged your home, wrote the biggest check you’ve ever written, handed it over to the previous owner of the outfitting territory and just like that, you shouldered greater responsibility than you ever imagined.
At first, it was a close race between mounting expenses and client deposits arriving for you to use to prepare for their hunts in the coming season—your first. You had boat repairs to pay for, trucks in need of fixing, gear that required mending, government fees to pay, maintenance cost on cabins, marketing and advertising bills to deal with. And that’s on top of the hundreds of unseen costs that you hadn’t realized were part of keeping the doors to your new outfitting operation open as you get ready for the fast-approaching hunting season.
The bookings were slow that first year. Nobody in the hunting world knew who you were or how good your hunts would be. And so, even after that first season’s clients paid for their hunts in full, a month before the season started, all the money they sent was gone. That first year, you only made the final balloon payment, the money you still owed the old outfitter, by using your life’s savings. Even though you did all the guiding yourself, after all the expenses that first year, there was zero profit.
You made ends meet, thanks to your spouse taking a job, and the second year proved better. Your first-year clients vouched for you, told their friends what a great hunt you provided, and the deposits started rolling in. Thank goodness, because without the client money coming in, you had no other funds available to pay all the same “getting ready for the season” expenses that you incurred the first year. The truth be told, it was tight for 10 years, but eventually you managed to pay off the rest of what you owed on the territory. On the good years, your profit margin on the $1 million in revenue you were bringing in was a healthy 10 percent.
More important than the money, you were a respected member of a small group of fulltime Canadian outfitters, who were running profitable outfitting operations. You were living the dream, making $100,000 a year living the lifestyle you loved.
Of course, making $100,000 a year wasn’t going to put you or your family on easy street; you accepted the fact that holidays were always going to be busman’s holidays, standing in a booth with your spouse, trying to sell hunts at the various conventions, which cost money, but at least those trips were before tax expenses. Truth be told, that $100,000 in profit, after you paid Canadian personal taxes, didn’t leave much to feed, clothe, and look after your family, or fix your children’s teeth, and nor was a new car an option. Dinners out with your understanding spouse were few and far between. But all in all, life was good as long as hunt bookings continued on track.
And so it went, one season would end and what was leftover from the fees that season’s clients paid you, would be enough to cover your family’s personal expenses for the coming year. Barely, but enough. New clients for the upcoming seasons continued to book hunts with you and send their non-refundable deposits for you to use to prepare for their upcoming hunts and, if all went well, you made your 10 percent profit. Thankfully once a season was over, the costs for that season came to a complete end and so every penny you were spending from that closing date on, was for the upcoming season’s clients.
Your operation increased in size, more staff, year-round employees, accountants and bookkeepers suddenly started sending you invoices and there were bigger insurance fees to pay every year and government quota fees continued to rise. But all in all, you could still swing a 10 percent profit margin.
Then came COVID.
By March 2020, with the spring season about to start, all the cabin rentals were paid, government fees were paid, all the expenses leading up to the upcoming hunting season were paid, the maintenance and gear costs were taken care of and the guides that worked for the outfit year-round on wages, were paid up. New temporary seasonal guides were organized and hired, the office secretary wages were up to date, and the massive amount of pre-season work was done and paid for. The only expenses remaining were the gas and food for the actual hunts and seasonal guide wages.
Most of your clients (except the few inevitable deadbeats) had already sent the remainder of their “hunt balances” 90 days before their hunt, as was stipulated in the contract they signed, monies which you used to prepare for their hunt.
And then, suddenly, without warning, came the announcement from the government. “THE CANADIAN BORDER TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLERS HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY CLOSED: STANDBY FOR FURTHER NOTICE IN 30 DAYS.” So, you got your team together and made contingency plans. It was a setback for sure, but the season would still work as long as the border opened in 30 days…but it didn’t.
You kept the doors open, continued to pay the costs, ready and willing to take your clients on their hunts.
The Canadian government left you hanging, like a puppet on a string. You had no choice but to keep your company operational, the doors had to remain open, your staff had to be there to answer phones, you had to keep paying and paying, because you had no way of knowing if the border would open.
Thankfully, the expenses for that lost 2020 spring season ended when that 2020 spring season ended and the expenses for the upcoming fall 2020 season and the spring 2021 spring season began.
Clients started calling the day the closure was announced. Most were civil, understanding. Most recognized that it wasn’t your fault, just “roll my hunt over to next year” they said, and you knew they thought they were being benevolent. You agonized and stressed over what to say to them. “I can’t?” Or “I’m sorry, your hunt has come and gone?” Should you tell them that you already paid for most of the hunt costs associated with their hunt? Didn’t they realize that? And unless those clients paid for those expenses again, there was no way you could afford to take them in a following year? And what about the government quota for the game animals? The quota was for that lost season and even if you could figure out the logistics of taking two seasons worth of clients in one, the government wasn’t about to give you a double quota for the following year.
Should you tell them that you already paid for most of the hunt costs associated with their hunt? Didn’t they realize that? And unless those clients paid for those expenses again, there was no way you could afford to take them in a following year?
You considered the option of simply returning what was left of the money your clients paid you to organize the hunt for them. Certainly, you could return the 10 percent profit you would have made on your client’s hunts, if they’d shown up. If you did that, it would mean you and your spouse would have to survive for the coming year by accessing your life’s savings account again, the money you’d both planned to retire on. There would be no retirement fund paying a monthly stipend when you grew too old to guide and outfit. So you had both worked hard to save some money for your golden years.
You could also return the food costs for the food you didn’t have to buy to feed the clients, because they never showed up for their hunts, that would add up to a few hundred dollars per client maybe. And there were the temporary guide fees that hadn’t been paid—you could return those savings to the clients as well. But when you sat down with your accountant and crunched the numbers, you came to the realization that, for the hunt the client paid $10,000 for, you’d already incurred and paid $7,000 of that client’s hunt expenses.
It was the most sickening feeling you’d ever had when you realized the most you could return to your clients, who had paid in full, was 30 percent—that was all that was left. You felt even worse when it became clear that because of the clients, the deadbeats, who hadn’t paid their balance in advance as their signed contract required them to, you couldn’t repay the punctual clients a penny. Insult to injury: you’d actually lost $2,000 on the deadbeat (although now seemingly prescient) client’s hunts.
About that point, the lowest point in your guiding and outfitting career, you started reaching for straws.
Government handouts? You put off telling the clients any bad news, because the Canadian government said they were going to do something to help small businesses and eventually they did, but not yours. Even if you had qualified for your fair share of the billions the government was doling out, it wouldn’t have solved the problem. It would have been like throwing popcorn at a charging bear.
What about trip and travel insurance for your clients? You grasped at that one as soon as you thought about it. Your literature to the clients clearly stated that you recommended they buy insurance for their trip. In fact, you even made them sign a form stating that they understood it was their responsibility to purchase trip and travel insurance. But when you canvassed all of your clients, only four had bothered to do so. Four clients who fortunately purchased the insurance before COVID was a foreseeable event, thereby ensuring they would be refunded the full amount, minus the insurance premium. Four clients you didn’t need to worry about.
From what you understood, the cost to purchase insurance for the trip was up to 25 percent of the hunt price, so the other 96 clients who booked one of your $10,000 hunts, gambled that nothing would keep them from being there for the hunt they booked.
Hindsight is 20/20, but you had warned them. They gambled. They lost.
Eventually you sought legal council. You and your spouse discussed spending the few thousand dollars it would take to get that legal advice because, with the family finances in dire straits, it was a big decision. With your government’s COVID response, your income was non-existent. But you and your spouse deemed the expense necessary—you needed to know how the law interpreted your untenable situation.
The lawyer, for $500 an hour, explained that after seven hours of research, that what you were looking at was something called “Force Majeure,” triggered by an “Act of God” and that it was considered to be a “Frustrated Contract” which Canadian Case Law clearly stated that in the case of a “Frustrated Contract,” caused by “Force Majeure,” any “Qualified Expenses” incurred by the party tasked with providing the service, can be legally be claimed against the contracted price, BUT that there could be no “Unjust Enrichment” by either party.
Your first reaction was to throw up. Lawyers always tend to make outfitters feel this way. In all the years you’d been an outfitter, you’d never seen the inside of the courtroom, so even though you had the legal right to claim the $7,000 you’d spent to prepare for your clients’ hunts, and every right to return only $3,000 of the $10,000 they’d sent you, it didn’t sit well with you. It wasn’t your style. It wasn’t what hunting and hunters were about. Litigation was for other industries, not for the industry you loved. Besides, your clients still wanted to come on their hunts, and you still wanted to provide that hunt.
So, you agonized and lost sleep. You waited, for more than year, for the government to tell you what you could and could not do the following month. You waited for word that the border would open and your clients could once again be able to come to Canada for their dream hunts. Expenses rose and you paid, but the 2020 fall season was lost and then the 2021 spring season was lost, too. Your clients for three complete hunting seasons were unable to cross the border, to get to you and to their hunts and for that entire time, you had to constantly be ready, doors open, phonelines working, electricity on, accountants paid, bookkeepers paid, full time staff paid.
The expenses piled up and the revenues dried up.
You postponed the day of reckoning, the day you would have to share the bitter pill with those clients whose hunts were disrupted by COVID, those clients who believed they were being “understanding” by simply telling you to “roll their hunt dates over” to future seasons.
You reached out to your spouse again for the thousandth time in the previous months, needing their wisdom and advice, yes, but mostly to look into their eyes and know that they didn’t see what you saw in the mirror—a failure. This time you wanted their permission to seek legal advice once again, but not on “Frustrated Contract” law. This time it was for advice on bankruptcy.
The Reality Today for Canadian Outfitters
The Canadian border will be open soon, but most certainly with restrictions. It is likely that permission for non-Canadian citizens to enter Canada will only be granted for those providing proof of two COVID vaccines. Further, it’s possible that quarantine and testing requirements will also be part of the criteria for entry to Canada. When exactly the border will open, with restrictions or not, remains a matter of conjecture. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, maybe in the fall—nobody knows for sure.
For an absolute fact, the Canadian border will not stay shut forever. When that border opens, there are some facts that all non-Canadian clients, who had hunts booked with Canadian outfitters for the COVID affected seasons (and possibly even the 2021 fall season), need to be aware of.
Canadian outfitters, have had virtually zero income for over a year, but have incurred most of the expenses associated with operating their businesses for three seasons in a row. International clients (mostly from the USA) represent the vast majority of the demand for Canadian outfitters. Booking Canadian clients, as has been suggested as a viable option by Canadian government, has proven to be problematic unless prices are lowered to a point where most outfitters would have to operate at a net financial loss. In those cases where a client’s Canadian outfitter replaced their contracted international clients with Canadian clients during the COVID border shutdown, either at cut rate pricing or for full price, questions arise. Can the outfitter’s game inventory handle double the harvest number if that outfitter plans to “make up” the lost hunts in the following season, doubling those clients up with the clients they already had on the books for that season? All reputable Canadian outfitters suffered significant financial losses during the Canadian border COVID shutdown. The extent of the loss, however, is greater for fulltime outfitters and larger outfitters with greater overhead expenses than part time outfitters. Clients booked with the various Canadian outfitters presumably did so because they trusted that outfitter would do their best to provide the expected outfitted experience. This means clients expected the outfitter to be prepared in advance for the contracted hunt, which means spending money. Canadian outfitting situations are different in regard to expenses incurred before a scheduled hunt. Some have to book and pay for rooms ahead of time. Some have fulltime staff to pay. Some have more equipment to maintain than others. But ALL have up front expenses. A straw poll consensus of my contacts confirms that Canadian outfitters incur 30 to 70 percent of the total hunt price, before the actual hunt takes place. Over the two spring seasons and one fall season that have been lost to Canadian COVID border closures, straw polls confirm that hunt prices have risen by 15 to 30 percent, due to increased demand and general inflation brought on by COVID. The $10,000 hunt that the outfitter sold that was supposed to take place in the spring of 2020 will cost a client $11,500-13,000 to take that same hunt in 2022. In other words, if outfitters operated like airlines, giving a “credit” for the lost booking, the client would still be required to pay an extra $1,500 to $3,000 for the same service they originally paid for. Canadian outfitters are just now beginning to understand the ramifications of “inflation” on the costs of their contracted hunts. A $30 sheet of plywood, to repair damage to a cabin caused by a grizzly bear back in 2020, will now cost $130. The price of gas, vehicles, maintenance, and flying will all rise. All of which exacerbates the financial burden all Canadian outfitters are shouldering right now. Every Canadian outfitter’s situation is unique. But most want to live up to their contracted promise to take the clients affected by COVID on their hunts. Some Canadian outfitters are on a quota system, which allows them to take only so many animals in a season. Most outfitters in this situation lost their quotas for the seasons in which their hunters could not show up and, as of this moment, there is no indication by any of the Provincial or Territorial governments that those unused tags will be moved to future years. Virtually all the clients who booked with Canadian outfitters and who had their hunts affected by COVID had the opportunity to purchase trip and travel insurance. So expecting the Canadian outfitter to simply roll the hunt over to a future year is tantamount to expecting the Canadian outfitter to be the underwriter for the insurance policy—after the fact. Many Canadian outfitters are avoiding the hard conversation with their COVID closure affected clients. They do not want to be the bearers of bad news: There has to be a COVID surcharge applied to the contracted amount. This is just to allow the outfitter to remain in business and be able to take those clients on their hunts. Many Canadian outfitters are willing to take a serious financial hit if it means they can live up to their responsibilities and take their COVID closure affected clients on their hunts. Many Canadian outfitters would survive financially, albeit with at least four future years of zero profit, if the clients paid a COVID surcharge of 20 to 40 percent of their full hunt cost to “roll over” their hunts to future years. It’s an amount that is approximately equal to the cost of paying for travel insurance or the contemporary price of the same hunt if booked today. The vast majority of Canadian outfitters want their clients to be happy and want to avoid litigation. Legal action results in lawyers being the only winners. The best advice for all parties concerned, is to negotiate, not litigate.
Post-Covid Recovery for Canadian Outfitters
Hopefully the craziness of the last year full of COVID anxiety, fear, and, in some cases, hysteria, will never be repeated. But it happened. And before moving on to a post-COVID world, we need closure. Closure not just from the confusing government COVID messaging and protocols, but closure in our own hunting industry. That closure—for clients who lost their hunts thanks to COVID rules and regulations, which were not in any way the result of actions by the Canadian outfitters—needs to come from a place of empathy. This is possible when those clients have the hard conversation with their outfitter.
I’ll say it again: Your Canadian outfitter and all Canadian outfitters, especially those who are fulltime outfitters, have been hurt financially. It’s an inalienable fact that recovery, if it comes at all, will be slow and painful for those outfitters. These people are some of the finest human beings to walk this earth. They have been there for you on your previous hunts and, given the chance, they will be there for you in the future. We need the hunting industry to be strong if we want our children and their children to enjoy the hunting tradition that we all hold in such high regard.
So before you make that call to your Canadian outfitter, ask yourself: Would the loss of one year’s worth of your discretionary holiday dollars affect your financial future? Will your life be different if your outfitter cannot return the full amount you paid? Or is it worth it to you if they require a 20 to 40 percent COVID surcharge to take you on the hunt you dreamed about—and that they want to deliver for you?
Reading his points about what taxes and fees the Canadian govt imposes on the outfitting businesses....they do not sound business friendly.
The last thing I care to hear is Jim Shockey’s feelings about how a paying client should handle their Canadian hunts with other outfitters. Which is why I read about 8 sentences of his crap before stopping.
But, Jim will tell everyone who’ll listen about it. And, how they should react, feel, handle the situation, etc….
* Both customers who lost money and those who will face higher prices going forward.
Sure some can, some that have lots of money to hunt every year can, but not all.
I look at it like this: He was paid to deliver a hunt, he didn't deliver the hunt. The fact that he uses income before delivery of service to pay for future service, is not the clients issue. The client paid for something and got nothing.
Is it fair to the business? Nope, it's not. But the flip side isn't fair to the individual and I side with them every time
So the answer is NO. There is NO way for an outfitter, or anyone in the tourism industry to have been able to do ANYTHING to prepare for something like this. The only options available were taken, but when push comes to shove they didn't pay. Our industry in Canada was left in the dust. Forgotten by government and they just don't seem to care. The losses are gigantic, and what Jim says is true. Of course he is saying what matters to him. It remains to be seen who comes out the other side.
Young businesses without giant financial backing won't make it. Established businesses with large savings will, and the part timers who outfit "on the side" while having another job will also make it. The ones in between are the ones you might see on the news attempting to take out Trudeau after he took their lives from them.
It absolutely blows my mind that a country can completely shut down private enterprise and their ability to operate, and not compensate them in a sufficient manner enough to have them survive.
Ask yourself if you really live in a free country.
IMO....JT is the enemy of your state. I don't know for sure which provinces are "red" and which ones are "blue", but there needs to be a major reckoning up there to prevent the govt from disregarding the businesses up there again.
That is true in other businesses besides outfitting. I've seen many 'new' restaurants started without enough capitalization up front to see them through the start-up period. Sooner or later they're stiffing suppliers, or failing to pay taxes, and they're gone.
From what Shockey says, a lot of these outfitters are 'spending it before they earn it' - except that "it" isn't their start-up capital but the customers' down payments - and the same fate is coming down.
And no, I'm not blaming them, sounds like the up-front costs to get into it are very high. It's just going to suck for a lot of people on both sides of the counter.
Clients paid large deposits, shockey spent their money, told clients to pay an addl 40% or pound sand.
In your world, an outfitter charges $10,000 for a $5,000 hunt so that he doesn't need to rely on his deposits. You still like that picture? Where else is this money supposed to magically appear from? In what world can a company take deposit money that it "doesn't need?" I'm sorry but that just makes no sense whatsoever.
Another example of the China Virus rules is my neighbor beside me. He rented the building to a guy that opened a tire store. The guy has not paid him rent for months. He is selling drugs and the tire store is front. The homeless are living in the building. They have torn the shit out of the building. I have constant problems with homeless drug addicts. I get very little help from the police. He now has the city all over him for the state the building is in the trash all around it. They will just start allowing evections start 7/1 and it will probably take him a couple months to get rid of them. It cost him a bundle. It has been a nightmare for me having that next door. It is just another example of how the government rules hurt those trying to make a honest living.
The outfitters are the not bad guys nor are their clients. It really sucks for both of them and both are going to take a financial hit. It is largely because the government thinks they are gods and can fix anything yet never seem to understand the unattended consequences.
Go buy a car without a deposit. Go buy a kitchen without a deposit. Go hire any tradesperson that's going to bring in material without a deposit. When you order something off amazon what % have you paid while you still have received 0 product? Before leaving on any booked vacation how much have you spent? For lights? Accommodations? if you book and all inclusive vacation what % have you paid? Hunting is another form of vacation - why shouldn't it be 100% like the rest of the industry?
It's all industry specific. In the outfitting industry, that's the way it works. Go start up a bear baiting, outfitting industry without taking deposits. How do you expect to buy bait? Barrels? Equipment? Machines? Gas? Tags? Where is the money supposed to appear from?
Deposits are required in the outfitting business. You have to lease, pay help to get bait sites running, scouting, transportation, feed horses, etc…. All way before the client ever shows up. So, requiring a deposit is a must. Because options to the hunter prevent getting that capital out of hunt costs. Too high? Hunters will go else where.
Any outfitting business, using their own money to operate on ahead of deposits recovering that cost, is doomed to fail. People cancel. It’d suck pretty bad to sink a hundred thousand in over head costs of your own money, in a non binding agreement, at the risk of never recovering it. That’s be the premiere example of a bad business model. And, one most assuredly primed to fail.
Owning an operating virtually any business is an expensive gamble, and their customers are not required to shoulder those risks. I see no reason why outfitting should be any different.
If you put down $500 on a set of tires and then 3 months later the tire company said they couldn't get those tires in the initial timeframe and that your $500 was essentially eaten away in business expenses to keep the lights on and do essential functions of the business - now your $1000 set of tires was going to cost $1400 would that be right?
Will be interesting to see how this changes things moving forward. You can bet people are going to be pickier about wording in their contracts. Unfortunately, even a better contact is just words on paper and if the outfitter doesn't have money - you're going to be up a creek. From a hunters perspective, ideally the $ would be put into some sort of escrow/legal account- to be paid out when terms of the contract are met... We have that in many other aspects of the business world - it just hasn't really crept it's way in outfitting as traditionally it's been more based on trust and word of the outfitter ...
I agree with Link for the most part. And no doubt Shockeys article is one side but aren't we all that way when it comes to our business. but will say hard to plan ahead for something that basically close your business for two years. especially when a lot of cost are required well before your first client shows up. You got to expect a certain percentage of business deals to go wrong. But I think it would be hard to find any business large or small that is prepared for everyone for two years to go south.
The reality in the business world is “survival of the fittest.”
Life is not always fair. I remember making the comment once is a corporate meeting that the decision that was being made “was not fair!” The executive VP of the company responded with a comment I will never forget, “Fair? Fair is a circus with pigs!”
My money does not ever become your money until paid for goods and services have been fully delivered. End of story.
Sure am glad my 2020 Canadian bear hunt was booked with a reputable booking agent, BSC. It’s been a non issue pushing twice now to 2022.
How about "Acts of the Chinese Communist Party"?
I need $10k down within 2 weeks...
I need $10k paid in 2022...
I need $5k paid before I stick a shovel in the dirt...
It's non-refundable if something beyond my control prevents the work...
I'll hope for a 5 - 10% gratuity if the pool actually holds water...
Would you sign my contract? I get that outfitters have ongoing expenses today which must be handled to keep things running tomorrow and next year. That's NOT unique to them or any business. I can't put your pool in (2023) if I don't make payments on the excavator in 2022. We'd all laugh at any restaurateur who wanted a deposit for a future meal to help cover expenses incurred currently. It's really not hard for any business to claim a deposit for future work or services is being spent on behalf of that client, even if it's being used on routine 'keep the lights on today' things today. I can't see using next year's money to feed the horses today, even if they'll be needed next year. It's exactly the kind of business model which produces the scenario pictured by Shockey.
I've long said deposits that far ahead make sense, given the size of the expense. An outfitter needs some lockdown security to insure guys don't back out. Instead of burning through tomorrow's earnings today, I'd prefer the funds reside in escrow with agreeable contact terms regarding disbursement.
I think it’s pointless to argue about a deposit not returned, in an agreement that it was known to be non refundable when signing up. If you were negligent enough to give 90% down before the required time, that can’t be anyone’s fault but your own.
I don’t care what you are paying for or, who you are paying for it. Your Money in their hand long before services to be rendered is going to lead to less then desirable when the going gets tough.
FWIW, there isn’t a business alive operating this year on next years revenue. It’s simply not a valid argument. Nor is it sustainable for more then one year. It’s just fireside logical that isn’t real life accurate. It doesn’t happen. So, there is no sense in debating the and or if’s of it.
Anyways, I hope it works out in everyone’s favor. But, it isn’t going too. I suppose that’s life. It really is no ones fault but governments.
I know this is how a clear majority of outfitters operate, and I'm NOT negative on responsible outfitters at all. I just disagree with the basic tenet of using deposits to cover today's expenses, unless some sort of fiscal safety net is in place. It shouldn't be a burden borne by the hunter or client who is blameless. The risks of being in business are almost always assumed and managed by that business.
The hunter is putting a deposit down to reserve their spot for the hunt on the dates agreed upon. They are paying for the "service" provided by the outfitter/guide. The outfitter hasn't provided the service for that hunter until the hunt gets completed as agreed upon by both parties. As stated by many, almost every business has upfront and continuing overhead. How big or small they are aren't really relevant. The cost of doing business, and the profit the outfitter needs/wants to make are built into that hunt cost in a financially sound business.
If an outfitter was taking deposits a year out for the first 5 years in business, but started to book two years out year 6 he did not double his income that year. Year 7 he started taking deposits 3 years out, he did not triple his income from 2 years ago. If he is taking the same amount of hunters each year, he didn't "make" more money. He just got more of the money before he provided the service. To live on or operate the business off deposits from hunts scheduled years out is a risky business model. Any business that operates like that works fine when everything is going good, but probably can't weather much of a storm.
No one could see what happened with covid 19 comming. It sounds like almost every outfitter and hunter that I have read about are working together to roll hunts foreword a year or two. That seems like it has been a good solution. If a bunch of hunters demand refunds of deposits from an outfitter that was forced to have no income by the government, the hunters would probably get nothing in reality and bankrupt the outfitter.
I had to read the Jim Shockey article twice. He seemed to feel he was entitled to the hunters deposit, and the remaining balance of the hunt without providing the service. The hunter spending $10k on the hunt was portrayed like it was no big deal in the story, like deciding if you would stop for a burger. On the other hand he went through paragraphs of mental gymnastics justifying selling a service, wanting the money for the service, and not providing service. If the hunter wanted to move the hunt ahead, they would need to probably send another 40 percent covid surcharge on top of full payment to help cover the loss his business took by the government forcing the shut down. That doesn't seem right.
This has been a terrible situation for many, but his perspective would have me pretty leary of booking with him if I was thinking of doing a hunt like he provides.
Saying the client gambles when they don’t buy trip insurance and send in a deposit is ridiculous. The business generally carries the insurance, not the clients.
Concur.....that isn't right. If a "Covid Surcharge" was put in place on hunts already paid for or a deposit was sent in......I know that dog won't hunt.
IMO....the war is between the outfitters and their govt. Asking NR's to provide additional compensation for something already paid for and agreed upon is not a wise business move for the industry. Where the Canadian outfitters would have to do a balancing act is if some outfitters tried to do that and some didn't. The black eye would cast a big shadow over folks who don't deserve it.
That ugly “outfitter gas surcharge” looms on the horizon.
As Pat said. There is no easy answer
The reduction of outfitters along with a strong U.S. stock market will result in less supply and steady, and more than likely, increased demand. I’ll be very surprised if the outfitters that survive don’t dramatically increase prices.
You are going to give them the additional funds that they need or you are not going on the hunt. Get over it.
“Don’t piss down our back and tell us it’s raining….”
Seems Mr Shocky has been dealing with far too many extremely wealthy clients to whom 10, 20... $100,000 was pocket change. Maybe to them it wasn't literally the trip, the adventure of a lifetime. For a good many others it was.
Sucks for everyone. And there should be some way to come to terms, even if you're profit margin takes a hit. Or maybe a tiny increase in charges, both sides give and take. 40%? That's not rainwater running down your back.....
Also pretty clear Canada certainly sees the Outfitting Industry and their clients as "discretionary".....
When I raised labradors I insured each one with Lloyds of London Never had an issue. Expensive for sure
There is nothing that you can insure for a price
Haven’t heard from them since, reputable outfit and was or maybe still is a sponsor on here.
It sucks but I know I couldn’t live for 2 years without income either.
Your outfitter agrees to roll your hunt (and maybe a bunch more) forward to 2021. What happens to the 2021 clients who still expect to hunt? Will the outfitter be over-booked and making compromises to pull it off? How does your outfitter manage this situation, and do you inquire about it?
Trip insurance could have value in many cancellations, but likely not in the pandemic scenario.
Maybe, or maybe he just doesn't know and is making a statement of conjecture. But, it's no different than speculating he is the hypothetical outfitter.
When people say loss of funds that is detrimental to the hunter isn't necessarily the case in a certain regard. The inherent tragedy that hurts the most is losing out on the experience at a high cost. The money saved wasn't ear marked for another necessary purpose (down payment on a house, disruption in living, kids' college fund) or an investment for a return of break even or increase as in use in a business.
Yes, and it sounds like those are the options they're facing. I doubt that many (any??) are financially able to 'make good' out of pocket.
At best some hunters will get partial satisfaction. At best some outfitters will stay in business, but with a tarnished reputation. It will take time to re-establish trust. At worse, some outfitters will drop out bankrupt and their booked hunters will get nothing. Sucks.
Yeah, you'll probably see some 'consolidation' as bigger outfits pick up some new areas. It will mean less choices for prospective clients going forward (and higher prices.)
All my guys will eventually get a hunt for which they put down a non-refundable deposit on. I was booked for 2020, and half booked for 2021 when they first closed the border. I moved most hunters from 2020 to 2022. At the time I was not thinking it would last this long. Now I have spring and fall 2020 and spring 2021 and possibly Fall 2021 to stuff into 2022. Which I could not imagine doing.
The hunters that saw into the future took the rollover to 2022, their dates are guaranteed. Now, I am booked for 2022 Spring and Fall. I rolled the hunter deposits over. Also keep in mind that I had booking's allready for 2022 . If this sounds confusing.... it is!!
If I cannot get hunters in this Fall I have a plan.... unfortunately not all will like but its all I can do, below is my plan.
The hunters I cannot get into 2022 due to not relieving pressure with a fall 2021 hunt, will be moved to 2023. "BUT", I guarantee they will get to use their deposits on a hunt at Pine Acres Camp.
A deposit is a investment that a client made on a hunting Outfitter or Fishing camp. I feel I owe them, no question. So far I have been upfront with my hunters. Answere the question they have via Bowsite message or my FB hunt page " Pine Acres Bear Camp". Covid has actually got me closer to my clients, ones I have never met. But China Virus will not be around for ever.
I will go through and correct my spelling and grammar after I post this LOL
Bowsite Forum has been "VERY" helpful in a way that allows me to say whats happening in real time!!
I learned the hard way back in 1999 that nothing comes easy!!
I'm having a hard time mustering up any sympathy for Mr. Shockey.
I know you constantly remind us how you were an outfitter in the USA. Running a big remote Canadian outfit is nothing like taking out US hunters who have drawn their own tags and you run them out of a hotel or tent camp, or out of a short term rental house or one you own for another purpose.
Maybe you can soon go buy one of these bankrupt Canadian businesses and show us all how to get it done! Make your millions of dollars off it like you think Shockey has so easily done!!
And for whatever reason his crop doesn’t come in, or due to borders closing he is unable to sell his crop, he doesn’t owe the bank anything?
If he does, then any outfitter who takes a deposit either owes the hunter a refund or his hunt with the deposit as part of the deal. If he can’t, he can declare bankruptcy. That should be the only way out of not delivering on the goods.
Yes it was out of their control and they should probably be compensated by their government. But that shouldn’t be the hunters problem.
In my mind, the deposit isn’t for the outfitter to prepare, he can borrow money to do that, it is so he knows he has a commitment from the hunter that he is coming and will pay the remainder of what he owes when he shows up.
Especially when that 1/3 or 1/2 ends up being all they take in because no one can make the trip.
Many camps and businesses in Canada were loaned money by the government at 0% financing. Due at end of 2022. If (Loans) monies are paid back to the Government by end of 2022, then 25% of the loan is forgiven. The money available was into the hundreds of thousands. Loans were for surviving the devastation of the border closure. Such as insurance, taxes etc. Most of these camps have mortgages already.
Ontario also gave businesses up to $40,000.00 in forgivable grants. Camps also who wanted to do infrastructure work to their camps, were given a rebate that was spent not including wages.
Any Canadian business owner, who lost business income was able to get CERB, something like unemployment insurance, which is $2000.00 a month or they can get onto the CEWS program. CEWS is where the government pays 75% of Canadian Businesses wages paid to themselves.
But it appears the US was partly to blame for funding the Lab. So they will never hold China accountable.
If my house was burning, I'd make sure my wife and animals were safe, first. Hopefully, I'd have time to grab a few irreplaceable personal items, second. Then I'd let it burn to the ground, and worry about what caused it, and who should pay for it, later.
If the fire was caused by a lighting strike, I'd be happy for the insurance I have to cover it. If the fire was caused by the government, I'd be pissed and expect reasonable reimbursement. If the fire was caused by my own negligence, I'd own it, and move on.
IMO, the Canadian outfitters "fire" was caused by a little of all of those. I think God caused the lighting strike. Sadly, governments fanned the fire. And the Canadian outfitters were negligent for operating in a manner that left them in a compromising position with their customers.
Sad situation all the way around.
I’m a produce farmer from Florida and I don’t get any bailouts. I grow what I want, not what the government says.
I'm wheat and corn but 90% wheat
That's going to be a tough pill to swallow from here on out. I can see a percentage as non-refundable to cover the admin costs by the outfitter and to compensate for the opportunity cost he incurred.
The outfitter didn't get a deposit only to return it once the hunter showed up for their hunt. The farmer put up his farm as collateral, the outfitter did not put up his business for the deposit.
The money you borrow from the bank isn't theirs to begin with...
Calling guys negligent because they didn’t save up millions to twiddle away on expenses with no revenue. If that was the business model any half brained twit wouldn’t have gotten into it!
I hope you guys who booked get your hunt or your money back.
My Canadian fishing trip was recently cancelled again. Our resort owners told everyone they could just move their deposit to 2022 or they would gladly return it. Those are classy business owners.
I'll this as a afterthought -- What broke this systems that has been working for years and years??? A government sticking it's finger into the free market.
Having said that, I think 95% of Canadian Outfitter and lodge owners have rolled deposits forward. If that’s not good enough for you, then I’m not sure what is.
Technically, there are clauses in nearly every contract I’ve ever read that relate to “acts of God” or “force majeure” that alleviate the party that can not fulfill its liability due to something like this pandemic. It’s exactly why insurance isn’t paying a dime. If outfitters were like Insurance agents they’d have kept deposits, claimed this out and left everyone high and dry. But they AREN’T like insurance agents and the lions share have gone beyond and shouldered the burden.
Staring down the barrel of a potentially 3rd lost season though. If this fall doesn’t get rolling you will see waves of bankruptcies and many many deposits will be gone forever. Words can not express the contempt I have for our elected leadership.
Now we are finding out that many outfitters seem to be using the deposits for operating expenses up front. That's a risky business model at best and unethical at worst. What happens if the outfitter is injured just before the season and he can't take his clients on hunts? If the outfitter is using the deposit money to fund the business pre-hunt there wouldn't be money to refund.
The financially stable outfitters will likely survive and the ones that stuck their neck out to pursue their dreams may not. The same can be said about 1000's of businesses because of this pandemic.
If outfitters have to borrow operating money, then you can bet the hunters are paying that interest plus the balance. That adds up to a higher hunt cost then operating capital created by deposits. Also, how does a younger business acquire the massive funding it takes to operate without requiring a non refundable deposit?
It all sucks. It really does. But, step out of the spot light and look at things. I don’t care who says they operated on their own money until the clients hunts were done. That’s not good business. That’s an extremely fortunate business to be in the exact right situation to allow that. Go lease up hundreds of miles of acerage and tell me again how that works for you.
I really could care less what Jim Shockey thinks. And, as stated above, he doesn’t care about anyone but Jim Shockey. So, his thoughts on it are no surprise. But, it’s as extreme on the other side, to suggest that outfitters are negligent to require to non refundable deposit.
It’s real life. And, few have a silver spoon in their mouth. It takes years of hard work and commitment to gain stability in any business. Outfitting included. And, those that make it in any business learns real quick you don’t spend your money for other people’s benefit. Or, you aren’t going to have any money for very long. That’s life in a nutshell in the small business world. And there is several hundred thousand business owners yearly that never learn that until it’s too late.
No business model spends their money without all but a guarantee it’s going to return. Why would anyone expect that from the outfitting business then?
Jim Shockey has been a positive force for the good of hunting. But his number one priority is definitely Jim Shockey.
Both Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes eventually bottom out when the flood of new investors dries up and there isn't enough money to go around. At that point, the schemes unravel. Tell me how it is different to use my deposit for things before I show up
If you hire a guy to lay hardwood floors in your house. You are probably putting a deposit down before he starts and he going to go buy material with that deposit - no difference. Try having a builder start building you a house with out being paid for some of the work before he starts - it is not going to happen.
No doubt that there are bad business owners out there. But I'll promise you there more customers that will take advantage of a business than the other way around. That is because the business has more to lose.
Last thing with a terrible hand outfitters especially in Canada have been dealt. It sounds like the vast majority are doing the very best they can not to leave their customers holding the bag.
Again., deposits are fine and should be paid to hold your spot, because t paying the full balance of a 20 k hunt before stepping in camp is a mistake. All businesses have crisis that arise, part of being in business. If they can't survive then they go under, there are always others in the wings to jump in.
Some people seem to be pretty hung up on this whole deposits thing. In business there is revenue and there are expenses. Deposits are simply a part of your cash flow and a % of the revenue from that sale. Most businesses would not even track those separately as they are part of the revolving door of money going into an account. Some people seen to think your money is going to an account with your name on it, and as if that money is sitting in that account until you show up. Keeping it all separate is just more accounting and work that up until a global catastrophe, really wouldn't have been necessary.
If you were running a profitable business, your accounts are growing. If you booked with an outfitter that has been around a while, guess what, 99% chance he's profitable. He wouldn't last 5 years losing money. So that means he has a solid business plan where his bank account is in the growing not shrinking stage. This outfitter has no need to track your deposits separate from your final payment. He simply pays expenses as they come up with cash in the bank account. When your deposits come in they go into a bank account, same as your final payment. Most of these guys won't have "accounting departments." That might want to keep track of everything and make the necessary journal entries etc to itemize everything differently. They just know that in a regular year they take in $_______ in deposits, and $_______ in other payments. Out of nowhere the government closes you down, and you're left picking up the pieces. You were running a business, providing for your family, working hard and making this country a better place and one day the rug is pulled out from under you. You are given zero direction from the government about what will happen and when it will happen.
So ya, some guys are just picking up the pieces and figuring things out as they go. Because no one has been here before. If you have a hunt booked and the guy is still planning on delivering, then I wouldn't worry about it. One day this government will pull it's smarmy head out of it's A$$ and let it's hardest working people get back to work and we will get some direction. But it sounds like it's all being held over the barrel of an election.
Because Canada isn't third world status the way much of Mexico and Central America is, that's why. If Canada had a lot of destitute people to add to the (D) voting coffers, they'd be coming over in tidal waves as well...
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada could start allowing fully vaccinated Americans across the border as of mid-August for non-essential travel.
He also added that our neighbors to the north should be in position to welcome fully-vaccinated travelers from all countries by earlier September.