Wheely Wonderful Cycling has been promoting this wonderful county of ours for years now. A vital and successful tourism business, we interviewed Kay as part of our Small Business Saturday blog series.
How long have you been running your tourism business?
Over 25 years – We set up Wheely Wonderful Cycling in 1992.
How did Wheely Wonderful Cycling start?
It started with our own cycling holidays, with a tent and a vague plan to cycle from the UK to the South of France. We had such a fantastic time, that we decided to set up our own business selling cycling holidays (but without the tents!).
Back in England we started doing research into the cycling holiday market (there wasn’t one), and deciding where to base our cycling holidays. We cycled all over the country (and France), before we decided that Shropshire was the place; great cycling and food, hardly any traffic on the country lanes, and in a good position for the short break market (a regular train service to Ludlow and a 3 hour drive time from London).
We started Wheely Wonderful Cycling as a cycle hire service with a couple of cycling short break holiday packages, from a shed in the back yard of our house in Ludlow. Within a couple of months, we found our permanent base; Petchfield Farm. We converted the barns into our home and the cycle base – and we’ve been there ever since.
Describe your business for us?
We organise over 30 different cycling holiday packages from short breaks to week long tours. All start from our base at Petchfield Farm, 5 miles west of Ludlow, and explore Shropshire, Herefordshire and Wales. Each holiday package includes quality bikes and great accommodation, luggage transfers, our unique route guides & maps, and full back up.
All the holidays are themed for cyclists with different interests and cycling abilities; from Castle visiting with an electric bike to family cycling holidays or epic cycling challenges, like our Lon Las Cymru cycle tour from Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey to Chepstow on the southern Welsh coast.
We book & organise everything for our clients – all they have to do is cycle to their accommodation each day, where a warm welcome, good bed and their luggage will be waiting for them. All accommodation is based in a small village or market town, where they can also be guaranteed great food & drink each evening.
What are the challenges in running a small tourism business?
Adapting and anticipating market changes and fashions. We started our business ahead of the market trend for cycling, now we have to continually look ahead to see which way the market is developing and adapt it for our own cycling holidays.
With all that you have achieved so far in your business, what are you most proud of?
Happy customers, who have had a great holiday and come back again or recommend us to their friends.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting up their own travel/tourism business?
Perseverance (for the business) and absolute attention to quality (for your clients). You are looking after your clients during their valuable free time, so make sure they have the best time possible.
What are your plans for your Wheely Wonderful Cycling in the future?
We constantly plan out new holidays for our clients to explore this wonderful area and we have lots more ideas for cycling holidays in Wales and the borders.
Do you have a favourite cycling holiday you have worked on?
I’ve loved them all… because the only way to sell them is to make sure that you have cycled them too! However, last summer, we introduced the Herefordshire Gardens cycle tour, and this combined great cycle rides with my other hobby gardening. Herefordshire does have some wonderful gardens.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
Making a living out of cycling. Being able to discover great cycle rides and places to visit by bike – then sharing them with others (our clients) to enjoy too.
Where are your favourite places to cycle in Shropshire?
From our base Petchfield Farm along the Teme Valley and up the River Redlake to Clun in Shropshire. My favourite, because whenever I get some spare time, this is where I go – and it looks fabulous every time.
Do you have any new cycling holidays for 2018?
Our new holiday for 2018 is a Slow Food Cycle Tour of Shropshire. Great cycling and great views, with a chance to visit craft breweries; vineyards; local food producers and of course sample some fantastic local restaurants and tearooms
WordPress blog https://wheelywonderfulcycling.wordpress.com
Interview by Louise Welsby, Buy-From Shropshire