Go Cotswolds (www.gocotswolds.co.uk) provides day tours of the Cotswolds from Stratford-upon-Avon and Moreton-in-Marsh, as well as charter tours and private hire on request.
The company is owned and operated by Tom Benjamin – it is his business and his lifestyle. The business fits in around his passion for travel, cricket and his growing family. It has come a long way since his very first tour in 2014, which had only one passenger!
Now in its third year of operation, the company had over 600 passengers on its scheduled small group Cotswolds Day Tour in the first six months of 2017 alone. In total, Tom has met people from 69 countries around the world, and from 43 US states! Go Cotswolds also runs private tours for groups of up to 16 in and around the Cotswolds and Shakespeare’s England. Having listened to customer feedback the scheduled Cotswolds Day tour – which operates on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays – now includes a visit to the picturesque village of Bibury.
It has been a great year for the business, receiving their second TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in a row, and being voted Best Tour Company in the Cotswolds for two years running. They have also added Cotswold Business of the Year to their list of accolades in the most recent edition of The Cotswolds Awards.
A love for travel
Tom set up the business with no background in the travel industry, just bags of personal experience and a passion for travel. This coupled with a love for his home, on the edge of the Cotswolds.
According to Tom: “I’m a local so my knowledge of the area ensures visitors get to experience the best parts from a local’s perspective. This means that we not only visit the places you see pictured in the guidebooks but also those hidden, off-the-beaten-track places you’d only know about if you lived here yourself.”
A crucial website presence
The business has grown organically, mainly from the excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and through word of mouth. It is absolutely crucial that the company website is visible and works well as it is how passengers book onto tours and where payments are processed.
Before the official company website was set up, Tom started blogging to generate interest and some demand for the first tours. The first website was then built from scratch by Tom, with help from his wife, and it did the job. It was built up over time and enabled bookings and payments to be made.
However, the site was a bit clunky to use and update, so Tom decided to talk to a web design company who were able to make the website look more professional and work better. Tom can now easily update the site himself and even verify bookings when out and about on tours. The site is clean, works well on all types of devices and is secure.
Important online search
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is really important for Go Cotswolds and the content on the site has been written with keywords in mind. Social media helps to keep content fresh and improves search engine ranking too.
“I think it’s really important that customers can see we are active and current through social media updates,” says Tom. “It goes some way to help build trust that this is a reliable business. It adds to the authenticity of Go Cotswolds, with images showing real people enjoying the places we visit.”
“It reflects badly on your business if you haven’t taken the trouble to update your website or social media accounts”
Tom says he chose a co.uk address because Go Cotswolds is a British company and he wants it to be clearly seen as that. He believes it is important to be visible on the internet domain from the country you are based in because it helps to build trust.
Tom summarises: “We are at a point where we’re well established, the website works well and looks good. TripAdvisor also has a huge impact on the business. Many people use it to research their often once in a lifetime trip to the UK, and then visit our site. I couldn’t operate without our website which provides a professional web presence that represents the quality of what we do.”