BY EMMA HALL
Aaron Sales, co-founder of Global Sessions.
// Photo by Adam Wickham
Hood River startup Global Sessions evolved out of the Gorge Mai Tai, a kiteboarding camp for entrepreneurs. “Large corporate groups like Nike would want to come out here to the Gorge, but they wouldn’t know what to do,” co-founder Aaron Sales, 39, says. “So we take them on snowshoe tours or to private waterfalls that they’ve never heard of before.” Sales considers Hood River the multisport capital of North America. Different clients have different activity levels, so Global Sessions creates schedules to fit each company. When outdoor-brand store The Clymb visited, they went stand-up paddleboarding and rafted over a 14-foot waterfall. When Best Western brought 125 people, Global Sessions set up a train ride to a winery with a murder mystery along the way. The self-funded company employs five people and hires freelance event directors when needed. “The beauty of destination-management services is that large groups front the money before they arrive, so we’re doing pretty well.” The company also relies heavily on event sponsorship. The best part of the business — exposing clients to Hood River’s offerings — is also the most challenging, Sales says. “There are so many corporations in Portland that know the Gorge exists, but they don’t come out here. Many of these groups will go to Lake Tahoe or Colorado, spending a lot of money and time on travel. But we have something equally as amazing, if not better, and it’s only a 45-minute drive from Portland.”
Company: Global Sessions
Product: Event and destination management services
Co-founders: Aaron Sales and Matt Sweeting
Headquarters: Hood River
Famous friends: “Many times when we do these private corporate retreats, we also include professional athletes. Some of the best pros in the world live in this town. We just did a stand-up paddleboarding clinic and brought in Nikki Gregg, female paddler of the year.”
Next: Besides destination management, the two-tiered company is putting on four networking and recreation events per year known as the Sessions Series. The first was the Gorge Sessions on August 9-11. Future events will be held in Oahu, the Caribbean and a not-yet-determined snow-sports location.