Go Ape reveals how a Gloucestershire firm is key to its growth

The dilemma of how best to deliver vital staff training to its rapidly expanding network of high-ropes adventure sites could have threatened to hold Go Ape back, but the it found the solution to helping its business continue to scale new heights in Gloucestershire-based Nimble Elearning.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

Go Ape is one of the best-known family adventure companies in the world, with multiple sites across the UK and US employing over 1,000 staff, with plans to continue expanding. 

Two of those sites are in the Forest of Dean at Beechenhurst Lodge and Mallards Pike, where visitors can head up into the trees on its high ropes courses, or explore the forest floor on its fleet of Segways. 

The firm, founded by Tristram and Rebecca Mayhew, has built a reputation not just for its challenging, fun activity courses, but for its safety and customer service.

It is now a £40 million-plus turnover operation that has been a 90 per cent employee owned trust since 2021 — but when operations manager Rob Davies started at the business, it was still in its early days.

When it had just a handful of sites, training staff on customer service and safety expertise was easy, but as it grew, the need to cover multiple locations UK-wide and continually update staff became a challenge it knew could potentially hold it back — until it found Stonehouse-based Nimble Elearning.

‘I have been here 20 years and am now part of the team in Bury St Edmunds that has been assembled to run the business,’ said Davies, a former teacher. 

‘We now have 34 sites across the country and that is increasing. We used to deliver all the training face-to-face, but as we have grown that became increasingly difficult and we needed to find a solution that worked.

‘We had a dilemma on how to deliver the training. We simply became too big; too many people to get together in one place to train.’

In the Forest of Dean alone the firm has an estimated 30-plus staff, with just under 20 during off-peak season.

‘We found the solution in Nimble Elearning and its online training platform. Nimble gave us the ability to do a little bit of both online and face-to-face.

‘It allowed us to get across clear messages and had cost and time benefits as well.

‘Price was a key element, but it was the flexibility that won us over. It enabled us to do what we wanted to do. It was and is a really good fit.

‘We are seasonal in terms of demand, which means staff can come and go fairly quickly, so we are reviewing training fairly regularly and having online gives us options.’

With plans for yet more growth, it's a system that the firm is only going to continue to benefit from.

‘We just got planning permission for a new site at Chelmsford, Kingsland Park, due to open summer 2024, and we have a couple of other sites in the pipeline too.'

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