It's a new year and an exciting one at that. Experience Hampshire Co-Founders, David and Roger are reflecting on 2021 and sharing their hopes for 2022.
Roger: 2021 was a year during which many of us have appreciated the space immediately around us. With our usual ability to travel the globe curtailed, we’ve had to look closer to home for things to enthuse and inspire us and many of us have realised that, whilst we love travelling abroad, there is so much closer to our homes that warrants exploring.
It was during the summer of 2020 in between lock-downs that I travelled to Cornwall on a family holiday. Like many, once I have booked accommodation in my chosen destination, I spend much time researching the area where I plan to stay, scouring the internet for ‘things to do’. The activities for which I am searching will become as much part of the holiday as the accommodation and the eating out and it was during such a search of ‘things to do near Padstow’ that I realised that the lack of a single source of interesting and inspiring things to do in the area around where I was due to stay.
There were the tourist board websites, promoting the well-known venues and activities, but, unless I really knew what I wanted to do whilst I was on holiday, there was no site to connect me with all the amazing courses, activities and experiences that I knew must exist close to Padstow. If I wanted to go on a bread-making course, then I could, of course, just have Googled ‘bread-making course near Padstow’, but what if I wanted inspiration of things to do during my holiday – things that I didn’t even know existed locally?
This became the inspiration for the idea for Experience Hampshire – a web portal that would connect customers who wanted to gain easy access to the all the experiences within a defined area (likely to be where they lived, or where they were travelling to on holiday).
A website full of inspiring activities run by the artisans and creatives who couldn’t afford or didn’t want to advertise on the tourist board websites?
A platform that would allow customers to find out about experiences and activities that they might never have considered before?
On returning from our family holiday in Cornwall, I met up with David and Nadine Collinson, friends from the village where I live and the idea of building just such a web platform to showcase the county that we knew so well started to become a reality. Experience Hampshire would become the ‘go to’ website for amazing experiences across the county, providing a digital shop window for micro-businesses based in Lymington, Stockbridge, Basingstoke, Portsmouth and everywhere in between.
David: We recognised that critical to our success would be to build a digital platform that would be as functional, easy to use and well-presented as the class leading sites that exist for booking hotels, rooms and restaurants. We were also very keen to work with Hampshire based experts. Fortunately for us we found Mike Crompton from Summit Digital, who is not only a leading designer and builder of digital media, but is also based in Winchester! Together with Mike and his team we began the task of constructing a platform that would be inspiring and easy to use, for both our potential customers and our Partners, who were supplying all of our experiences.
Of course, a key stage in the building of the business was designing our logo! We needed something that would speak to the business we are and what we do. Colleagues, partners, friends and relatives all had an input on the designs we considered, with many and varied points of view. The design we chose received unanimous approval: simple, descriptive (its an “e” for Experience) and useful (we can use it to point at locations).
The website design process began in earnest in May, with the initial beta version for in house testing being ready by October: an incredible achievement by the team at Summit Digital.
In parallel with the process of building the website we needed to build up our roster of experience providers (Partners), and so September through to December was a busy period for Roger and our Partner Liaison Officer, Louise Harrington. We are very grateful indeed for the support and confidence shown by those partners who we spoke to during this period and who committed to participating on the site before we launched publicly.
Following our launch in December our key focus for 2022 will be to rapidly expand our community of customers and therefore generate as much new business as we can for our Experience Partners. We are fortunate in this regard to have the skills and expertise of Winchester based marking guru Emma Downey on our side as “Chief Experience Marketeer”. Emma will be guiding our efforts in marketing and brand building through the coming year.
There are so many exciting things to do here on our doorstep in Hampshire and we hope that Experience Hampshire will help both residents and visitors alike to discover these local treasures!
Ready to start making memories in 2022? Check out some of our favourite Experiences here...
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