It's a good idea to decide at an early stage in your planning what type of trekking you will offer. For example, you might offer some or all of the following:
- one or two hour hacks
- half or full day treks
- weekend or week-long treks
- evening pub rides
- multi-base treks. These consist of day treks to a number of different overnight stops, where accommodation for both horse and rider is provided
Think about whether you'll offer one-to-one hacks as well as rides for small groups. Groups might include stag, hen and birthday parties.
If you intend to offer longer treks and riding holidays you might provide board and accommodation, self-catering accommodation or campsite facilities. Or you might arrange accommodation with local guesthouses, hotels, pubs and B&Bs. Consider what food you will provide if you offer accommodation, for example, you might decide to only provide breakfasts and packed lunches.
There are a number of other services that you could offer your customers, such as:
- hire of riding footwear, clothing and safety riding hats
- transport to and from your local rail or bus station
- outings and excursions for non-riding partners
- riding lessons, including jumping and dressage
You might consider selling gift vouchers - for example a 'book' of ten one-hour hacks or lessons. Some trekking centres sell gift vouchers through their website.
Some trekking centres welcome riders who bring their own horses - a charge is made for the keep of the animal during the holiday.
If space permits, you could consider offering livery services to local horse owners. Arrangements vary but sometimes the centre uses the horse for rides or lessons in return for charging the owner a reduced fee.
The right image
It is very important that your establishment projects the right image. Customers have become increasingly discerning and it is essential that your stables, yard and pastureland are well maintained and smart and that your horses are well groomed and fit. If you offer catering and accommodation this should be to a high standard. If you plan to target groups of young people it is particularly important that you clearly demonstrate that you run a safe operation. It would be worth highlighting any first aid qualifications held by staff to reassure prospective customers.
Advertising your business
Whatever the range of trekking and other services you decide to offer, you must make sure your potential clients know about you. Of course, word of mouth recommendation is one of the best ways of getting customers, but there are a number of things you can do which will promote your business:
- advertise in your local newspaper and any local leisure directories
- if you plan to attract people from all over the country (or abroad) for longer riding or trekking holidays you could provide regional tourist information offices with promotional literature
- gain British Horse Society (BHS) or Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) approved status to benefit from a listing in their directories
- set up your own website highlighting the quality service you offer. You might incorporate a booking and payment facility into your site
- use social media like Facebook and Twitter to let people know about exciting new treks and special offers