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How does an independant outdoor holiday company make sure that its guests have a great time?

My wife Carolyn and I have organised walking holidays on Menorca for more than a decade.In recent years we've grown and also run painting and cycling holidays on Menorca, along with expanding onto the neighbouring islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. We're very much aware that, as we grow, we'll be competing with bigger and more established competition. We don't have the funds to compete with these companies on a head to head basis and only continue to exist if people enjoy our holidays then go back and recommend us to their friends. How do we achieve this? The answer.....Personal service, attention to detail and, above all, obsessive planning.

Having worked together in our own advertising agency during the 90's, we were used to maticulous preparation and working together as a team. To be honest, we'd come to Menorca with a view to early retirement and had never been on a walking holiday before, or even been members of a walking club. What we did have, however, was a joint love of the great outdoors along with a passion for good food and wine. This was the combination that we decided would work for our guests and to this day, we spend as much time researching local restaurants at which to finish our walks as we do researching the walks themselves. When we first started Menorca Walking Holidays this process was easy and all we had to do was choose 5 good restaurants at the end of 5 interesting walks. This, coupled with finding good quality accommodation at the right price, gave us a fairly stress free life. As the business has grown however, we've had to up our game. Over 70% of our guests are returners. which is great news. However, Menorca is a small island and we were starting to run out of new walks. In short, it was a case of either expanding what we offered or watch our guests go somewhere else with another company. For this reason, we moved into Mallorca and Ibiza, along with launching cycling and painting holidays on our home island. This now means that we have 4 or 5 times more research to take care of during our "down time" and are constantly flying between the 3 islands in an effort to find new routes, different restaurants and top quality accommodation.

Fortunately, we both speak good Spanish/Catalan and can converse with our suppliers in their own language. In recent years, we've also entered the luxury end of the outdoor holiday market and now have to negotiate with top quality hotels who are commercialy trying to remove the shirts from our backs. We often have a wry smile when, at the end of the walking season, our guests ask us if we are looking forward to our holidays and "puting our feet up" for a few months.

We are, however, aware that we've got a job that most people could only dream of and one that absolutely suits our obsessive personalities. When I speak to my old friends from the advertising business and explain to them that I've had a hard day walking by the side of the Med and having to try out a new dish that one of our restaurants have prepared, I don't receive a whole lot of sympathy. I think that some people are forever looking for a new challenge and we certainly fall into that camp. Who's to say that we won't be organising walking holidays on the mainland of Spain in next couple of years. Watch this space.

Balearic Outdoor Holidays organise walking, painting and cycling holidays on Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza for couples, singles and groups alike. For more information, visit their website or call on freephone 0800 072 4832.

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