Foot Trails eyes global expansion
An increase in 'staycations' and overseas tourists visiting Britain has bolstered business at Foot Trails, the Bath-headquartered provider of guided walking trips across the South West.
Founder Alison Howell also outlined the company's vision to become the "worldwide company of choice for rural travel in England" after working with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to boost interest in the US.
Howell, an Insider 42 under 42, formed Foot Trails 11 years ago to provide guided day trips. The company launched its first in a new programme of walking holidays last month, a six-night break beginning in Bath and travelling to south Wiltshire via Stonehenge.
"We've had a great response and a lot of interest to the new trails. I'm hoping that's the way things will continue," Howell told Insider.
"We've had a break from guided walking for the past couple of years, so it's great to return to our roots in many respects and to be able to offer this walking experience to our guests.
"We have had a lot of talk in the past few years regarding 'staycations'. I think for us, it's a mixture of two things; I think that people are taking more of an interest in their own country and history – and long may that continue- but we're also seeing more guests travel to us from overseas.
"We're catering to tourists from America, Australia and other parts of the world, who are also very interested in Britain and England."
After working with UKTI for the past 18 months, Howell is committed to catering to US guests. She secured a place on the organisations Passport to Export programme in December 2012 in a bid to encourage Americans to visit Britain and explore on foot.
She also recently returned from the Kellogg School of Management, the business school at Northwestern University in Chicago, after winning a scholarship there.
"We love looking after American guests," she added. "At the moment, we're focusing on the US, but the ambition and vision that I have for Foot Trails is to become a worldwide company of choice for rural England travel.
"It will take us a while, but we progress all the time towards it. When Foot Trails began, it was just me and a computer. I literally started the business at my kitchen table."
This year, Howell has taken on two new staff, including a graduate holiday planner and holiday administration manager, to create more trips which she said the company is "developing all the time". She also told Insider she will be taking on another two employees in the next year.
"We're expanding and we're growing and will continue to do so," she said.