Scale Up Your Business Podcast
Entrepreneur In Focus: Wendy Shand – Founder of Tots To Travel
As part of the continuing ‘Entrepreneur In Focus’ series, Wendy Shand, founder and CEO of Tots To Travel joins Nick to talk about her journey in business, how she successfully identified her target market, and how she grew an idea into an eight-figure company that caters to families wishing to explore the world.
No two journeys in business are the same. Wendy’s began at a young age, when her parents would often travel without her due to insufficient amenities for children on international business trips. When Wendy’s family began to grow, she began to realise that a huge market was being ignored.
Through focus and resilience, Wendy founded a thriving business that she has personally scaled up into one of the most popular resort agents in the UK.
Tots To Travel is a specialist holiday resort company for families with young children, which was born out of Wendy’s own experiences of how to holiday with her own young children. The entire experience of trying to vacation with infants can be extremely difficult and overwhelming. This is a market that was being ignored almost entirely when Wendy began thirteen years ago. It isn’t just comfort that’s an issue with young families. Safety also is a huge concern for parents and families.
Mindset and focus at the beginning was extremely important. Wendy’s home life was transient due to her husband’s career. By understanding their different personality profiles, she was able to table the subject of their family’s future in a meaningful way. Wendy’s personality is that of a visionary, while her husband is an integrator. By teaming these attributes together, they were able to envision Wendy’s aims for Tots To Travel and turn it into a reality.
When it comes to her workforce, Wendy believes passionately in placing the right people in the right roles. By identifying her staff’s personal gifts and strengths, she can assign them correctly to key positions, and in turn ensure that they come to work happy and leave each day feeling fulfilled.
One of the key moments in Wendy’s journey was when she and her husband decided to play a high-risk move and go all in on Tots To Travel. Wendy’s husband quit his important career and they focussed entirely on building and growing Tots To Travel. As Wendy puts it, you make your best decisions when you’re hungry and when the wolf is at the door. By going all in, they had no choice but to succeed.
Tots To Travel saw a huge surge of growth when they refined their offerings to include resort villas providing a more thorough service, meaning that families could enjoy a more luxury holiday experience. This led to a large period of scaling up to meet the new demand.
Tots To Travel is challenged by disintermediation, the process by where consumers may discover their product using Wendy’s company, but who will then go and shop for it elsewhere so as to save money. This can essentially mean that Tots To Travel acts as a shop window at times, and is one of the more complex problems faced by Wendy; how to attract a consumer, and ensure that they complete their experience with her.
Wendy’s answer to this problem was to establish a product that could not be found anywhere else. Wendy approached investors and scaled Tots To Travel up even further. By purchasing a resort’s inventory for a set period of time, Wendy was not only able to offer a product that could not be found elsewhere, but she was also able to ingeniously tailor the holiday experience precisely to her market.
Across the life of her business so far, the main challenge in scaling up was a lack of inventory when it came to destinations. By evolving the business from a simple directory of holiday lets for families, into an exclusive collection of destination resorts that cannot be found anywhere else, Tots To Travel has genuinely evolved and met the demands of its own growth.
Building a successful business and scaling it effectively has been a lesson in experimentation, and developing a niche market that is exclusively yours.
During the beginning of the business, Wendy didn’t realise the importance of establishing the culture of the company she wished to create. Over the next years, they focussed on stripping out practices that weren’t aligned with the values she wished to establish, and began again.
Self-development is crucial in creating the right mindset. Wendy and her family focus on physical as well as mental stimulation and treat themselves as prime athletes. This is of paramount importance in Wendy’s mind. By telling herself that she is valuable, and reinforcing this with tangible benefits, this sense of importance and value is translated into her business life.
I don’t see boundaries between countries. I see opportunities”
“People go to Cornwall for eight or nine years on the trot, because they’re scared of travelling further”
“Creators work intuitively. I was feeling my way along the journey”
“I fundamentally believe that if people spend more time in flow, that is where their brilliance is”
“To take the island, you’ve got to burn the boat”
“It’s been a big lesson in experimentation”
“I profoundly believe that what we are doing at Tots is purposeful”
“I am at my best when I am being creative”
Scale Up Your Business Podcast
Tots To Travel
ABOUT THE HOST
My name is Nick Bradley. I’m an entrepreneur, author, speaker and investor.
My background is in growing and scaling VC, and Private Equity backed businesses.
Having successfully built, bought and sold a number of companies, and removed myself from day-to-day operations, my focus now is on helping entrepreneurs get to where they want to be, in business and in life. As well as investing in growth businesses and backing turnarounds - with the ultimate aim of creating value from significant capital events.
I’m passionate about personal and professional development - showing up and being the best version of myself ... every day.
My bigger vision is to help bring entrepreneurial skills, experience and mindset to people in developing nations - so they can follow their dreams, live life more on their terms - utilising entrepreneurship as a global force for good.