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Spice Up Your Life

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Virtual Sky Dive with SpiceUK Virtual Sky Dive with SpiceUK

The introduction on the SpiceUK website states that ‘Spice is a social, adventure and activity group for ordinary people who want to do extraordinary things. With over 10,000 adult members nationwide and hundreds of varied events per month to choose from you're sure to have fun, meet new people, make friends and join some great events.’ A lot to live up to one would think, but after interviewing the man behind the organisation and checking out some of the customer feedback on Facebook and the SpiceUK website it would seem that Spice does tick all the promised boxes.

I met up with Dave Smith, founder and owner of SpiceUK at his home in Manchester which he shares with his partner John and two dogs, one of which was keen to get involved in the interview. Dave started Spice in 1981 with a vision to provide an opportunity for friends with a mutual interest in adventure and activities to get together and share experiences. From these humble beginnings Spice has grown into one of the largest social membership groups in the UK.
The dictionary definition of spice – other than exotic vegetable products – is ‘something that gives zest or relish’, a perfect name therefore for a club that adds flavour and definition to the mundane nine-to-five lifestyle we often find ourselves in. SPICE is much more than just a social-glue however, and the original idea for the name came out of an acronym for ‘Special Programme of Initiative Challenge and Excitement’, with the focus on personal as well as social development. Spice Canyoning
Dave is keen to clarify that SPICE is not a single’s club despite the fact that the majority of members are single, the difference being that their motivation for joining SPICE is friendship and excitement rather than love. 
Group holidays were a natural extension for SPICE members and the initial inspiration for the first trip was a visit to an IMAX theatre to watch a movie about rafting down the Grand Canyon. The task of finding the supplier for such a trip was cumbersome in pre-internet days but Dave persevered and sourced a holiday which has now been running for over twenty years. Naturally the demand for overseas trips grew and SPICE now offers over fifty trips a year working with specialist tour operators such as Exodus and Solos Holidays.
 Spice Grand Canyon Trip
I asked Dave how he managed to keep the price of the holidays competitive when so many of the travellers were single. Dave advised that apart from the excellent buying power provided by the specialist Tour Operators, most of the holidays provided by SPICE offered members the opportunity to share twin room accommodation with other like minded members. This not only enables single travellers to avoid the dreaded single-supplement but also adds another social element to the holiday; with many of the sharers becoming lifelong friends.
Dave was also keen to promote the benefits of sending a SPICE co-ordinator on most of their trips.

The role of the co-ordinator is to add ‘social-oil’ to the group dynamic and ensure that there is always as much extra activity organised as required to ensure a rewarding and smooth holiday experience for SPICE members.

SPICE does not just offer adventure or activity holidays; some of the best attended trips are ‘chill-out’ breaks to destinations such as Turkey, Greece, Italy and the Caribbean.

 Spice Antigua Trip

I couldn’t finish our conversation without enquiring what Dave’s favourite destination was. He advised that Iceland was the destination that left the biggest impression whilst the adrenalin filled raft journey through the Grand Canyon was another experience difficult to better.

So what is the future for SPICE? Dave is keen to grow the membership with a recruitment drive aimed at a younger audience and his main marketing tool for this is likely to be the power of social media such as Facebook and Linkedin.
For more information on SPICEUK, visit www.spiceuk.com or search for SPICEUK on Facebook.

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