Name: Helen & John Hogg
Business: Stratford Town Walk
Tell us about your business?
Multi-award winning public and private sightseeing walking tours, coach tours and evening Ghost Walks in Stratford upon Avon
Stratford Town Walk was established in June 2002 when John and Helen Hogg identified a gap in the market. John and Helen arranged a meeting with their guiding colleagues to invite them to join their guiding venture and Stratford Town Walk was under way. A team of guides now provide the highly-acclaimed walking tour, every day of the year, even Christmas Day! The guides are local, specialise in Stratford, its history, the Shakespeare connection and have a deep love and respect for the town itself. The guides have many years guiding experience, with backgrounds in management, teaching, education and tourism. Most importantly, the guides provide interesting, entertaining tours with an emphasis on quality of service and high customer satisfaction.
The public Town Walk takes place every day even Christmas Day and is the ideal way to discover Stratford and its fascinating relationship with William Shakespeare. The walking tour passes the Shakespeare town houses, Royal Shakespeare Theatres, River Avon, 15th century timber-framed buildings, Guild Chapel, Shakespeare’s School and Holy Trinity Church (with option to see Shakespeare’s grave)
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri at 11am
Sat & Sun 11am and 2pm
Christmas Day at 10.30am
Walks start from the swan fountain on Waterside, opposite the fish & chip shop on the corner of Sheep Street. Duration 2hrs. Look out for a guide wearing something yellow and pay on arrival. Ticket includes discounts at a range of shops, restaurants, pubs and attractions. See website for more info: www.stratfordtownwalk.co.uk
What motivated you to start your business?
A love of guiding and the need to provide work for other guides.
What have been your greatest successes?
We are very proud of tour team of exceptional guides, our continued high quality reviews and the awards we have won. Our first ever award was the Coventry and Warwickshire Godiva Award for Best Visitor Attraction when we were up against Warwick Castle and Compton Verney. Since then we have won other awards, including a Pride of Stratford Award and most recently a Theo Paphitis SBS Award for small business sunday.
What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge to us personally as small business owners was an unexpected, serious health issue resulting in treatment for several months. We managed to run the business without anyone being aware of the problem and maintained our level of service and quality. Our team of guides were there to support us.
What advice would you give to other small businesses and those thinking of taking the plunge and creating a start-up?
Make sure you do some research to find out if people actually want what you are offering and at the price you are considering – never assume you will get customers without hard work. Seek feedback from customers to check you are on the right lines and maintain high standards and reliability.
How has technology (the Internet, Social Media, etc.) impacted how you conduct business?
Most of our customers come via the web so it’s important to maintain a presence on social media, but pursue other forms of marketing as well.