Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Loved by Parents 'Fab Woman of Year' - Wendy Shand

Yesterday, Wendy Shand, founder of Tots to Travel was awarded the winner of Loved by Parents ' Fab Woman of the Year' award.  This is completely deserved, she is a mum of three, the youngest being just 2!!  She has built an award-winning business, also giving other mums the chance to run their own businesses with her support and training through her network of Lettings Experts, currently based in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus and expanding into other countries.

The business grow from a seedling idea after a near-miss with her oldest child while on holiday.

This is the interview from Loved by Parents website

Name: Wendy Shand

Age: 37

Family Members
Rob - husband,  Barnaby - son aged 9,   Maisy - daughter aged 7   Monty - son aged  2

Previous Career SAHM, primary school teacher

What is the Name and Nature of your Business?
Tots to Travel (http://www.totstotravel.co.uk/) is an online holiday lettings company specialising in family friendly properties. We source, visit and vet self-catering holiday properties in multiple countries, ensuring that they are suitable for families with young children, specifically assessing safety and ensuring all the kit parents need is provided. We market these properties to parents and help them find the holiday that best suits their needs. In addition, we help holiday home owners extend their holiday season by niche marketing their properties to the young families market.

What Inspired You to Start It?
My inspiration for the business came after a family holiday in which my then 2 year old son fell into an unenclosed swimming pool, while staying at a gîte in France. I realised that there was a gap in the market to provide genuinely safe and family friendly holiday properties, which allowed parents to relax, instead of working even harder than usual. At the time, the options for parents were either very expensive hotels or resorts with kids clubs, camping or more-shabby-than-chic self-catering properties that seldom suited families with young children. There was nothing that addressed the very specific needs of this target segment. As a mother, I completely understood what parents needed, so I specifically decided to target parents with children under the age of five, ensuring that the properties provide everything that families with young children need. By targeting this sector which is not bound by school holidays, Tots to Travel is able to secure bookings for property owners outside of the peak holiday season, extending their season and boosting their income.

How Did you Get Everything Up and Running?

In 2005 I studied an online business course using Tots to Travel as a case study. I quickly realised that the idea was viable and approached Welsh Business Eye for pointers. Ffatri Fenter (The Enterprise Factory) gave me an initial £100 on the back of my business plan to ‘test’ the concept which I used to pay for the logo and to undertake some initial marketing. Ffatri Fenter also lent me £1000 as an interest free loan to get the business off the ground. Mentor Mon, (the business advice service in Anglesey) offered support and assistance with accessing local council funding. This resulted in the promise of 40% of my start up costs (IT, website development, marketing etc.) which subsequently fell through when my husband was posted at short notice to the south of England, posing one of my greatest challenges yet! Despite that early set back, I flew to France, lined up my first 9 properties and it grew from there. Within the space of five years, we’ve grown our annual turnover to £1 million pounds and we have over 300 properties on our books in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the UK, the Balearics and the Canary Islands, all of which have been personally visited and vetted by my team of marketing agents.

Continue reading

Well done Wendy, you deserve it!!

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