Wendy's husband was serving in the RAF when Wendy had the idea for a children safe travel company and started the business Tots to Travel.
While supporting the business in the Service, Rob left to help Wendy’s successful and growing business. The business was effectively conceived and launched from a married quarter.
Equals is particularly keen to encourage spouses to 'work-fron-home' as a huge resource for success. Wendy, one of many successful spouses in business, shows what can be done when we put your minds to it.
In Wendy’s words:
When I launched Tots to Travel from my kitchen table seven years ago I had an inkling that it would take off, but it has far exceeded anything I could have imagined.
We had just returned from a disastrous family holiday where among other things, my two-year-old boy had fallen into the unenclosed swimming pool and had been rescued by my father. I felt that there had to be a better way for tired parents to holiday with small children so I set about creating Tots to Travel.
Today we offer families with under-fives selected and inspected holiday accommodation, designed and kitted out to keep their families safe and happy. This focus on creating a unique offering (USP) has been vital to our success. We work with over 350 properties in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and the UK, and have sold more than £3.5m worth of holiday accommodation.
I believe the company's success can also be attributed to our big business ambitions backed by a structured and planned growth plan. I've no doubt that had we overstretched from the start, Tots to Travel may never have had the opportunity to grow and reach its potential.
Wendy’s Top Tips:
Over the years, we have identified five factors that have proved key in helping us to make it big in business.
On-going investment - in both time and money - are essential. However, I would also advise caution with your spending - we invested small amounts and proved the business model worked before moving to the next level.
Know your market
It's vital to not only know who your target customers are but also the competition. Having a really clear niche market has proved a huge benefit for us, which some may think strange. However, instead of competing against every online travel company, we set our sights squarely at families with pre-school children.
Of course, 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 how best to reach them.
The importance of marketing can't be overvalued. While word of mouth works to some degree, it simply isn't scalable. Websites, public relations and a search engine optimisation strategy have all helped our business grow. I also believe that businesses ignore the social buzz at their peril and, therefore, social media marketing is a worthwhile area to invest in.
Having a clear understanding of your target customer and adapting to meet their needs is paramount. Market research has played a vital role in helping us to achieve this and it also helps set ourselves apart from the competition. For example, we introduced the Tots Essential Kit Guarantee - a promise all properties have 20 key items of 'must-have' equipment for parents of young children.
We have also launched a range of luxury villas in Tenerife, benefiting from the convenience of a five-star hotel, which enjoy year-round sunshine enabling parents of young children to take advantage of extended booking periods outside school holidays.
Commitment to improving customer experience drives any business and there is no room for complacency in this area. We recently extended our opening hours to meet the needs of busy parents and invested in new screen-sharing technology during one-to-one consultations to help families find what they are looking for more effectively.
These initiatives have certainly reaped rewards, with 90% of our clients rating Tots to Travel customer service as 'great' or 'absolutely fantastic' and 97.4% have already, would, or would consider recommending the company to their friends.
A last note from Wendy
If you're dreaming of starting a business or you're already up and running then my new book is for you. In this book, I share my professional and personal experiences of taking Tots to Travel from fledgling kitchen table start up to being a multi-award winning brand and leader in the competitive family travel market.
Here's to your business success!
Award winning Mumpreneur
Founder Tots To Travel
Wendy Shand is the author of The Mother of Invention: Taking your mumpreneur idea to big business and beyond, which is available to download FREE from www.wendyshand.com