Industry sector: Leisure

Pony trekking: Customer profile

Your market

Your customers are likely to be of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. Many of them will be novices so it's very important that you have suitable horses and ponies for them to ride.

Customers might be mainly local people or you might also offer longer riding holidays to people from all over the country or even from abroad. You would probably offer these customers board and accommodation - or offer to arrange it for them. Some of your customers might be local groups and parties of pupils or club members. Many riding centres offer riding facilities for disabled people. You might agree to a regular block booking from your local hospital physiotherapy unit.

Don't forget that you will need to provide a competent and experienced trek leader for each group of riders - ideally one escort per six riders. The Horse Rider's Hacking Handbook by Karen Bush is the official manual of the Association of British Riding Schools. The manual contains comprehensive information for ride escorts. You can find out more about the publication on the Crowood Press website.

Cash, card, cheque or voucher

Many of your customers may pay you in cash for short hacks or for riding lessons and it makes sense to put in place secure cash handling systems.

You may sell one or two-hour gift vouchers (for example in values of £25), possibly through your website. Don't forget to state how long the voucher is valid for.

Parties of riders are more likely to pay by credit or debit card or by cheque, as are customers booking a riding holiday - particularly if you accept online bookings. In fact you are likely to require these customers to pay a deposit. Think also about the level of cancellation charges you will impose.

Special offers and discounts

You might be prepared to have promotional special offers from time to time. For example, you might charge a reduced fee for a mid-week trek, when demand is lower. You could offer group rates to attract larger parties. If you offer camping or self-catering facilities you could offer guests a discount on trekking activities.