Wendy Shand, owner of family travel specialists Tots To Travel www.totstotravel.co.uk, has taken her kitchen table idea to leader in the pre-school travel market in just seven years. Wendy’s new book ‘The Mother of Invention: Taking your mumpreneur idea to big business and beyond’, available to download free at www.wendyshand.com, is a guide to help other mums devise and develop their own business by taking Wendy’s lead and always looking ahead and daring to think big. Here the mum-of-three offers an insight into how she has grown her multi-award winning company:
“I believe our success can be attributed to having big business ambitions backed by a structured and planned growth plan. I had an inkling at the beginning Tots To Travel would take off, but it has far exceeded anything I could have imagined.
“On-going investment, in terms of time and money, is essential. Without it you’ll find you will have spent a lot of energy and money upfront but the venture is not growing going forward.
“It may seem counter-intuitive, but having a really clear niche market has helped us as well. Instead of competing against every online travel company we aimed squarely at families with pre-school children. That doesn’t mean our customers are confined to this group, but it does give us a clear idea of who our core customers are and ideas on how best to reach them.
“Marketing is another important factor. Word of mouth works, but isn’t scalable. Social media marketing, websites, public relations and a search engine optimisation strategy have all helped the business grow.
“Market research has enabled us to have a clear understanding of our target customer and continue to adapt to meet the changing needs of the market. For example, we introduced the Tots Essential Kit Guarantee – no other travel company can promise all their properties have 20 key items of ‘must-have’ equipment for parents of young children – and many of our properties now offer luxury packages that include chef service and children’s activities. We’ve also launched a range of properties in Tenerife, luxury villas benefiting from the convenience of a five-star hotel, which enjoy year-round sun enabling parents of young children to take advantage of extended booking periods outside school holidays.
“Another key element which drives the business is our commitment to improving the customer experience and, to this end, we recently extended our opening hours to meet the needs of busy parents.
“Today Tots To Travel represents more than 350 properties in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and the UK. To sustain this level of growth we have developed a new business model that charts website traffic by channel, conversion and product over a five year period and includes ambitious targets to deliver a further 20% growth this year and an impressive travel business success story within the next five.”