Can we believe we’re finally here? Of course! From day one, our little Hampshire-based team has always known that we’d be pressing the Big Green Launch Button of Experience Hampshire in 2021. So now that we’re live and ready to become the match-makers for Experiences and Customers I decided to ask our Founders, Roger Walker and David Collinson some questions about the journey so far, where the idea for Experience Hampshire came from and where it’s heading.
Roger: Excited and relieved! It was many months ago when David and I first chatted about the idea of a website that would showcase many of the amazing courses, activities and experiences available across Hampshire and it’s certainly very exciting to see the result of the many hours of hard work put in by all of the Experience Hampshire team in getting the website up and running!
David: It is great to see an idea being transformed into reality. What has been fantastic over the last few months is the number of people who have said “that is a great idea, can’t wait until you launch”.
We have also been very heartened by the reaction of potential experience providers who have welcomed a locally focussed business being established to promote the wonderful range of activities that they offer.
Roger: I had the initial idea last summer after holidaying in Cornwall and struggling to find a single website resource that collated all of the things to do in the county. The local tourist board websites were lacking in the range of experiences that they featured (and tending only to promote the larger, already well known visitor attractions) and when I came home and started researching, Hampshire seemed to have the same issue. Having lived in Hampshire for most of my life, I knew that there were many experiences available here in the county that even many locals weren’t aware of, let alone visitors. The concept of Experience Hampshire was to inspire customers and showcase all these experiences in a single internet location.
David and I have known each other for a while, so combining our skill-sets and enthusiasm for the idea seemed the natural thing to do and so Experience Hampshire was born...
David: As Roger said, we’d known one another for many years and I had been really impressed by the businesses he had managed and how he had run a local festival. I was winding down my involvement in the City and looking for a local business to support when Roger mentioned his idea for a “one stop” platform for Hampshire based activities. I needed no further convincing that this was a great idea to back and Experience Hampshire was born.
Chief Experience Officer, Roger Walker
Roger: I was born in Winchester, schooled here and subsequently returned after a while travelling the world to live in Twyford. I have been lucky enough to spend lots of time walking, cycling and exploring Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Solent and it is the extensive range of opportunities it offers which I love.
Whether it is sailing on the Solent, cycling on the South Downs or around the Isle of Wight, walking in the New Forest or exploring the county’s towns and villages, you appreciate how much Hampshire has to offer.
David: I am from Cumbria originally but spent many years living in central London. I moved to Hampshire over 15 years ago and really feel that Hampshire gives you everything; beautiful open countryside, thriving towns, proximity to London and a host of things to do combined with a dynamic local community.
Roger: Creating Experience Hampshire has been a team effort for sure and the past months have been very busy bringing the concept to fruition. From the expert web design skills of Mike and the team at Summit Digital, the expertise of Emma, our ‘marketing guru’, to the support of family and friends in helping brainstorm ideas, we have been very lucky in our journey so far.
David: The whole team have done a fantastic job of bringing their very different skill sets together and to bring Experience Hampshire to life. It has been great to see the brand and technology develop hand in hand and to discover the amazing range of activities that you can undertake here on our doorstep.
Experience Chairman, David Collinson
Roger: As well as being inspired by the many amazing experiences that we have discovered (some of which even we didn’t know about before we started our extensive research!), we have connected with so many inspiring small business owners, all of who love Hampshire as much as we do. So many are keen for us to succeed and love the idea of becoming part of the Experience Hampshire ‘collective’ of artisans and creatives, working together for the benefit of all.
David: I have learnt so much! There are so many aspects of creating a business of this kind that were new to me, from the ins and outs of how an on-line platform works through to the multitude of channels you need to think about in communicating with potential customers.
Roger: We aim to inspire and enthuse and to offer a single place to find great things to do with family and friends or gift ideas for loved ones. Moving forward we want Experience Hampshire to become the ‘go to’ web portal for things to do in the county. We’ll even be offering charities the opportunity, free of charge, to post details of events that they are organising on to our web portal to help them reach as wide an audience as possible.
David: We will focus initially on expanding our range of experiences and building our customer base. We also want to make sure we will communicate effectively new activities and opportunities that we are adding to the platform.
Roger: Our focus at the moment is 100% to Hampshire and we have no current plans to expand to elsewhere in the UK. If we ever did, then we would want to establish a local team to ensure that the same concept was followed – a dedication to all that is great in that particular county.
Roger: I am sure that we will find a way to celebrate and quite likely by our team taking part in one of the amazing experiences that we have on our website. Maybe a wine tasting at Black Chalk Winery, just outside Stockbridge, or cocktail making class at The Fox in Crawley.
David: Definitely with a glass or two of Hampshire’s finest sparkling wine!
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