The Business Magazine asked the CEOs and leaders of the Thames Valley SME 100 Growth listing, which celebrates the region’s high-growth small and medium-sized enterprises, to share their experience of managing a company in 2021. We asked Andy Tucker, the general manager of NatureTrek, the following three questions:
Alton-based NatureTrek, which offers a large selection of professionally organised, expert-led wildlife holidays, reached number 67 on The Business Magazine’s annual Thames Valley SME 100 Growth index with an overall growth of 14.5%.
Andy Tucker: The toughest challenge for us was making sense of the landscape for travel during a pandemic of the scale that none of us could ever have foreseen. The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit of all sectors, with the turnover blitzed and opportunities for overseas travel almost completely curtailed for large chunks of the past 12 months. Creating means by which to stay in touch with our customers, to forge goodwill (in the hope and expectation of a strong bounce-back post-pandemic), and to generate turnover in the form of day trips, virtual tours and domestic wildlife tourism was also difficult. A final challenge was communicating a clear plan to staff, to ensure engagement during long spells of remote working, and keeping the morale up.
Andy Tucker: As far as I can tell, we’ve been amongst the most proactive of all tour operators with new initiatives, and managed against all the odds to break even in 2020.
Andy Tucker: To be back to the same level of turnover and business as we saw in 2019. To roll out a new back office/reservation system. For the new trend of embracing nature and wildlife during lockdown to result in a new generation of clients for our business!
NatureTrek is included in the Thames Valley SME100 Growth index for the second consecutive year. To qualify for the listing, businesses need to be based in the Thames Valley, have a turnover of no less than £1 million and no more than £20m, and have grown their turnover significantly in the past year.
All Thames Valley SME 100 Growth members are now invited to enter the nominations to this year’s awards, which will recognise outstanding achievements in six categories.