Most of the rafting industry has heard about the mergers happening in West Virginia as of late. Two notable mergers have come about recently, due to business development and competitive strategy. Here are the two big changes:
1. Class VI, Adventures Mountain River, Riverman- This merger was quite interesting die to the fact that all three companies were/are good companies with steady business (comparatively). Numbers all across the board have been slumping, but each of these companies still kept their heads above water. So I would assume that this merger was in fact a business/competitive play in effort to try and take the lead for the rafting business in the area (notably from their direct competitor ACE Adventure Center).
The new company, Class Vi Mountain River, will now work to use the expertise and market niche of each individual company as a collective good to dominate the West Virginia rafting market. The three companies originally targeted different market segments to begin with, so the crossover in marketing would be fairly minimal and it seems like a good move for these three to get together.
2. ACE Adventure Resort, Wildwater Expeditions, Songer Whitewater and New River Gorge Adventures- Kind of a merger power move by the current West Virginia rafting market-share leader, ACE scooped up the partnership with a few other companies. Songer whitewater was well established and was decent sized. The other two companies were smaller and would make sense to move together with a larger organization to stay competative.
It will be interesting to see how these mergers play out. Often times you would think that there are too many outfitters in any given region/river, and West Virginia was one of those places. Nowhere near as crazy as Colorado on the Arkansas, but still too many from a consumer standpoint.
I think many areas and outfitters could possibly benefit from merging with strategic partners in their same region, if the numbers make sense. Most rivers will have multiple rafting outfitters, and only certain places restrict the number of outfitters that can operate on that portion of the river (Grand Canyon rafting trips are limited in space and with the number of outfitters that can operate)