TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based GO Activities, a tour and activity platform from the GO Outdoors retail chain.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
GO Activities from GO Outdoors. Go Outdoors is the largest outdoor retailer in the UK. The GO Activities team is headed by Mike Griffin and Ollie Kilvert, who joined GO from Be Travellers in December 2010. GO Activities will be run as a GO Outdoors Travel subsidiary.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
The investment has come from GO Outdoors, however our excellent developers STATUS (www.statusdigital.co.uk) is also a partner.
What problem are you trying to solve?
In the UK at least, online bookable outdoor activities and services just don’t exist. GO Activities changes that.
Many people simply aren’t aware of the range of activities that are available to them, (just what is Ghyll Scrambling?), GO Activities tells people what they are, and where they can do them.
Small tourism businesses struggle with marketing themselves to potential customers. As a supplier on GO Activities their activities are marketed to millions of potential customers who we know are interested in the sort of activities that they provide.
Planning all the elements that go into a short break or holiday is currently a time intensive process that involves information from multiple sources. GO Activities uses innovative planning tools that allow users to do quickly and easily do it all in one place.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Thousands of outdoor activities for all budgets and abilities, and thousands more accommodation options.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Anyone interested in taking part in outdoor activities based in the UK.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Before we embarked on this project Ollie and Mike spent a week in stores. They spoke to hundreds of customers about their interests and asked them to fill in a questionnaire.
One of the questions was a planning task. It asked: "Given five days, which of the above activities would you do, and when would you do them? (you can do two per day)".
We expected the required level of engagement to annoy people a bit, and that they would glance over it. Instead people were spending 20 minutes on it, the whole family were getting involved, they were asking what some of the activities were and when we told them were saying "that sounds fun, we’ll do that".
One person even asked: "Where can I book this?". Because of this the site has integrated planning tools and information about all of the activities that we sell.
The rest, well really we just designed a site that we would want to use. The vision was very strong, and we have worked hard to avoid compromises.
Will it be successful? Who knows, but I will certainly be using it, and so will everyone else at GO Outdoors.
It’s a company run by outdoor enthusiasts, with a customer base of outdoor enthusiasts, and in the outdoor activities world I think this is more than just a faster horse…
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
We want to sell loads of outdoor activities, and accommodation. The rest would be telling! [Ed: That's the point of the question!]
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Pretty obvious. It’s a unique offering from a company with an established customer base who we know are interested in the sort of things GO Activities is selling.
- It’s new, nobody knows if people will book these sort of complex products online, all we know is that they do in other sectors of the tourism market.
- To be involved in what people do with the kit they buy in store, after they have left the building (something that traditionally outdoor retailers have not been good at), to improve access to outdoor activities for everyone who wants to do them, and to strengthen an outdoor activities sector that is vital to rural economies all over the UK.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
I appreciate that people have a tendency to only listen to things that people support their ideas, and reject things that do not. But genuinely, no one has sai: "That’s not going to work."
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire shows us that sometimes the audience gets it wrong. But in this case, if I was sitting in the hot seat, one question away from a million pounds (and I didn’t have some intricate system of coughs by an accomplice set up to guide me to the right answer), I would definitely be going with their answer.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We have the opportunity to create something that is good for us, good for activity providers, good for the rural economies they support and most of all good for our customers.
If we are somewhere on our way to capitalising on this opportunity in 12 months time, then I will be marking it down as a success!
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.