Tour Design Framework

Nature Trail offers its commercial tours only once after the tour has undergone an extensive in-house a framework of design, planning and trialing to ensure best practice quality delivery.  This process is prescribed in detail under Nature Trail’s internal Tour Design Framework Policy.

The following is a summarised outline of Nature Trail’s Tour Design Framework, which is segmented sequentially into:

  1. Tour Design
  2. Trip Planning
  3. Trip Delivery Governance

This framework applies to all commercial tours that Nature Trail offered to the public on a regular scheduled basis, as well as to all chartered tours that we tailor make to private guest groups on an exclusive basis.

These procedural tasks apply to all Nature Trail’s Hiking Tours and Road Touring services, including those tours that involve a combination of both.

Many of these procedural tasks are done behind the scenes by Nature Trail’s Tour Director and Trip Leader and in no way to make our tours regimented, but rather to ensure safety is paramount, to deliver as promised best practice quality standards and to ensure smooth reliable running of each Nature Trail tour.

NOTE:   For an outline of the procedural tasks prescribed for Nature Trail’s more advanced 2-Day and Multi-Day Trekking Tours, please refer to Trek Design Framework summary webpage by clicking on this hyperlink:




  • Tour Scope: deciding upon proposed tour’s business fit with Nature Trail’s business purpose, territorial range, policies and operational capacities, tour type, tour mode, tour duration, routes, features, benefits, activities, added extras (e.g. catering), and pricing
  • Geographic Area: select a specific area range for the tour and draft a Tour Title name
  • Tour Type: select a tour type or combination, and whether it is to be a scheduled tour only available for exclusive private and tailored charter
  • Tour Mode: hiking (with road transfers), road touring, trekking, or a combination
  • Tour Duration: <3 hours, half day, full-day, 2-day, or multi-day options (at a safe easy hiking pace, driving speed, and allowing for generous delay buffers)
  • Route Plan:  select proposed track and road route segments, track route patterns, track legs, waypoints, alternates and contingency planning, limit tour duration to avoid fatigue especially driving durations.
  • Itinerary: road segments schedule: and rest/break locations, sunset timing, and duration buffers for delays
  • Target Market:  Identify the ideal profile tour guest(s) for this tour design including special interests, minimal guest abilities (to track distance, grade, condition, obstacles, minimum pace, pack weight, touring attire, etc.)
  • Tour Transport: vehicle type(s), total road distance, refuel needs, logistics (best routes, access conditions, parking locations, car shuffle requirements,
  • Tour Equipment: including tour vehicle kits, remote communications, guest kit hire options
  • Catering: options and timely toileting locations/scheduling
  • Accommodation: options, facilities, pricing researched and contacted
  • Attractions: researched visitation arrangements, including sourcing expert site guides
  • Tour Budgeting:  Initial tour costing, budgeting – breakeven and forecast profitability
  • Risk Management: Risk Analysis and risk mitigation. A Risk Analysis Report drafted
  • Compliance:  insurances, licensing and access permits
  • Commentary:  initial research of likely relevant topics of guest interest
  • Tour Advertising:  Tour brochure, webpage design initiated in draft form.



Following the completion of a Tour Design framework (for each iteration of a designed tour) Nature Trail undertakes detailed trip planning followed by at least two field reconnoitres to trial, document and fine tune the tour offering.

If this testing meets Nature Trail’s tour standards, then we undertake a complimentary practice trip with our buddies, The Friends of Nature Trail, in order to garner their varied input.

The following list is a summary outline of the Trip Planning tasks in sequential order.  This allows us to evaluate whether this tour design in practice will be a quality and commercially viable tour service offering.

  1. Recces + Practice Trips: at least two recces, one being within a week of the scheduled trip date
  2. Hike Plan and Variations: itinerary refined, mapping prepared, waypoints identified and Hike Plan, or walk plan if no hiking involved (e.g. village walking tour)
  3. Transport Plan: transport route, vehicle(s) choice, mapping, logistics (parking & shuffles) alternates and contingencies, checking access/road closure information, providing for the driver(s) and trip leader, driver familiarisation with tour including a recent prior reconnoitre of the tour route start-to-finish by the trip leader
  4. Tour Risk Mitigation: Risk Analysis Report including hazards identified, assessed for likelihood and severity of injury, risk mitigation measures prepared after each recce by our Tour Leader
  5. Catering, Sites & Toilets: catering method, and provider options, toilet locations enroute identified and assessed for standards and suitability
  6. Equipment Kits: for hiking, trekking and/or road touring according to the tour type, including catered sustenance, drinking water supplies, communications devices, first aid kits, touring attire for variable weather conditions, benighted contingencies, maps, etc.
  7. Briefings & Commentary: content of safety briefings to be immediately prior to locational context and commentary content to suit tour guests’ expressed interests
  8. Applied Research: undertaken by Steve in his joint roles as tour director and trip leader to build a varied folio of commentary content to select from for a given trip according to guests’ interests prior to a trip
  9. Guest Suitability Evaluation: details of each tour guest particulars, suitability (health, fitness, experience, limitations, client capacities, to track distance, grade, condition, obstacles, minimum pace, pack weight, attire), acceptance of terms and declaration, emergency contact details.  Guest Trip Manifest prepared.
  10. Tour Sales: Process tour guest enquiries, bookings and pre-payment processing
  11. Conditions Forecasts: – route standard, weather forecast, closures, any known or forecast bushfire risk
  12. Guest Guidance: reference to Tour Protocols on Nature trail’s website, what to expect, weather forecast, recommended touring attire, what to bring (touring kit), and what not to wear or bring
  13. Tour Notice: trip plan route, schedule, kits, and guest manifest logged at Nature Trail Base.  For each hiking and trekking tour this is posted by us on the AMSA website
  14. Trip Prep Checklist: responsibility of the trip leader and varies per tour type
  15. Trip Journals & Recordings: scribed by the trip leader for each recce, practice trip and commercial trip for a given tour
  16. Tour Budget: compiled by the tour director before a tour is deemed to be commercially viable and so then listed on the Nature Trail website database.




For each designed Nature Trail tour that also undergone a completed Trip Planning framework, our aim is then to ensure best practice in service delivery for each trip iteration of a given tour.   The tasks to achieve this are prescribed in Nature Trail’s Trip Delivery Policy within its Operations Manual.

The following list is a summary outline of these tasks which are the compliance undertaking of our delegated Trip Leader on the actual day(s) of a given commercial version trip – before, during and after.


  1. Pre-Trip Self-Assessment: conducted by the trip leader on the early morning prior to scheduled Trip Start: included fitness readiness of Trip Leader, Tour Vehicle(s), Trip Equipment, conditions suitability, no closures, trip prepayments received from all tour guests
  2. Visual Screening of Tour Guests: good health and fitness, appropriate touring attire, kit and suitability at Group Meetup time ahead of the Tour Start
  3. Adherence to Tour Brochure and Trip Agreement: adhere to route plan and schedule including dwell duration limits at rest spots, avoid route deviations or splitting the tour guest group.
  4. Group Field Leadership*: in a field/remote group leadership situation,  focusing on small group dynamics, individual tour guest safety and wellbeing, avoiding group separation, delivery of timely and appropriate verbal communications and instructions, monitoring tour guest performance and conduct, fostering mutual respect and group cohesion, effective immediate management of interpersonal tensions and conflict, appropriate leadership style in time of incidents and emergencies.
  5. Post Trip Chores:  conducted by the trip leader after Trip Finish such as trip log update, unpacking disposables, rubbish disposal, equipment stowing, refuelling and detailing tour vehicle, clothes washing, devices recharged, writing up trip journal, scribing tour yarn on Nature Trail website, finetuning tour design, and tour budget, etc.
  6. Governance Debrief: – conducted by the trip leader at Trip Finish as part of our Quality Development Cycle
  7. Tour Yarns: tour write up on Nature Trail’s website which is scribed by the tour director
  8. Tour Brochure: designed and scribed by the tour director.


For each commercial tour offered by Nature Trail a Tour Design Folder has been created with all the above information listed on this webpage included.  Each folder is a dynamic record that is updated and refined after every trip of that tour.  This is an output of Nature Trail’s Quality Development Cycle Policy.

*Group Field Leadership is a Nature Trail term that recognises the specific people leadership challenges that tend to arise amongst a group of strangers (typically on a tour) whilst day hiking or multi-day trekking in a remote area and sometimes under adverse conditions.  Group Field Leadership is those advanced interpersonal skills, people management and leadership traits, skills and style/approaches required of a professional tour leader under such situations.  Often once such a trip commences, it is difficult to alter or terminate the trip without costly repercussions, so interpersonal difficulties need to be appropriately managed in the field at the time, especially when the group encounters an obstacle, hazard, unforeseen problem, conflict, incident or emergency.