Join Yukon entrepreneur Mark Stenzig, owner of Up North Adventures, an outdoor adventure company that has operated year-round tours in the Yukon for the past 31 years, as we discuss the impacts they have experienced during the pandemic.
(4:00) During the pandemic, Mark shares that their customer base changed from an international and national market to a very localized market. This meant they needed to change their product offering to selling gear instead of renting canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards to support the demand from Yukoners who were unable to leave the territory during the border closures.
(5:38) Mark shares their first memory of the pandemic. Mid-March is when travel stopped and and the territory locked down. This unfortunately meant that they had to lay off the guides they had conducting their winter tours and everything they did had to come to a screeching halt.
(6:24) Mark explains how the no travel public health measures provided the biggest challenge to their business. They describe trying to find the balance as a small business owner in keeping money flowing in and trying to find new revenue streams to support their family and their employees while also ensuring everyone is being kept safe and healthy.
(8:02) Mark discusses the adaptation they are most proud of as being their ability to keep their doors open and keep employees throughout the whole process. They had to adapt in many ways to support not only changes in their customer-base, but also incorporate all necessary health and safety measures to keep operational.
(9:21) Looking at their business model, Mark has learned the importance of being quick on their feet and continuing to do their best to service their customer no matter where they’re coming from.
(10:06) Mark discusses how the pandemic-related supports provided relief funding to their business and allowed them to continue to pay their staff, while also sharing some of the challenges that existed in the relief programs available.
(11:36) Thinking about their business differently, Mark sees opportunity in what the Yukon has to offer to travelers from all over. They feel the Yukon will be a hot spot for visitors, however express their concerns with attracting staff being a huge hurdle to get through now and in the future.
(14:59) To better position themselves during the pandemic, Mark has experienced a change in their role and responsibilities, including an increase in behind-the-scenes office paperwork and providing training to new managers to take on those responsibilities in the future.
(16:03) Mark shares the importance of being a leader who stays positive and to focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. They share that keeping that positivity can help you to keep moving forward.
(17:43) As the Yukon economy emerges, Mark is paying attention to current issues they are facing in the tourism industry being air access and ensuring there is enough accommodation for groups coming in.
(18:39) Mark’s advice for emerging entrepreneurs? Same advice for leadership, which is to stay positive. As an entrepreneur, be prepared to work long days and make sacrifices, with the knowledge that it can be hugely rewarding.
(19:37) Mark describes the shift in worldview they had during the pandemic being the realization that the world is a lot smaller than most of us had realized. It was a big wakeup call for them about how we are all truly connected and what you do does matter at a bigger scale.
(20:21) What wellness practices keep Mark grounded? For Mark, their family kept them grounded throughout the pandemic, along with their approach of being here to help other people.
(21:17) Mark shares how they still love what they do and are passionate about being a part of the tourism industry. They encourage young people to try it, stating that although it can be hard, it can also be very rewarding.
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To learn more about Mark and their business, visit their website at:
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