A preview of the next 12 months at SHS by Richie Gledson
As the year turns, it represents a change in focus here at Sky High Sports. The time spent promoting our destinations and tours subsides somewhat & focus turns to delivering the experiences our clients have entrusted us to provide. Whilst there is rarely a fallow period for either, it is always an enjoyable challenge turning promises into reality.
2019 eclipsed our greatest ambitions. 2018 was our most successful year on record, so we had to work hard and creatively to get close to it. The end result saw us increase passenger numbers by 40% compared to 2018, with exciting tours reaching new destinations and the experiences provided exceeding what, at one stage, we believed to be impossible.
Looking ahead to 2020, we have added some new features to our service & have started an internal re-structure at Sky High Sports to ensure that as we grow, our clients receive the high standard of service they have come to expect. It also enables us to protect the company and continue to grow, as we always have done, organically and controllably.
This month will see the launch of Sport Safe, a Safety Management System unique to Sky High Sports that will be a significant improvement to the standards of safety and subsequently the quality of our tours. Whilst our previous system was up to industry requirements, SportSafe will ensure our systems go beyond this and become as thorough as major agencies such as Kuoni, Trailfinders and Abercrombie & Kent. Why pitch for anything other than the best? More information on SportSafe will be published on The Clubhouse section of our website in the coming weeks, in time for the big 2020 take-off in February.
We’ve also partnered with The Wooden Spoon Society. The Children’s Charity of Rugby have been funding life-changing projects that support children or young people with disabilities or living with disadvantage since 1983. The charity have funded over 1,000 projects in that time across the UK and Ireland, totalling over £28m. In 2020, we’ve challenged each member of the team at Sky High Sports to embark on an individual challenge as well as taking on a team event with a collective target of £5000. For each passenger travelling with Sky High Sports in 2020, we’ll be making a donation towards the incredible charity.
We also look forward to executing some phenomenal tours in the coming months. The 1st XV from the University of St Andrews embark on a once in a lifetime 2-week tour to South America in May. They will visit both Argentina & Brazil during the stay, play Three games, visit the Iguazu Falls, an Argentinean Ranch & visit the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro. Ahead of the tour, myself and tour manager Tom will visit the destination to ensure suitable provisions are in place for the visit & of course, check the beer is cold and the Red Wine as good as they say. These things are important, you know.
Late in 2019, Tom spent some time in British Columbia, a region from which we’re fortunate to host a steady flow of touring teams. These trips have been pivotal to not only growing our presence and reputation in such regions, but it is great to learn about the obstacles, real and perceived, that teams on the other side of the world have when embarking on a tour. It gives us the opportunity to mould our service to remove the real obstacles & of course banish any myths. One great addition to the service here is the introduction of a new payment system. Working with our partners at Foremost Currency Group, we are now able to invoice international clients in their own currency in a way which offers better exchange rates than a bank and ensures that every penny or cent sent, arrives with us & not lost in commission or fees. One client saved 1.8% on the entire booking, enough to cover the full tour cost of their tour leader, a definite win-win for all concerned.
The first team arriving as a result of the visit is Langley Rugby Club U18 Girls XV. They’ll spend 10 days between London, Bath & Cardiff in March, with one highlight being a day spent with the Tyrrels Premiership outfit at Bristol Bears.
These tours are great to work on, but I cannot understate how much we value the domestic tours our clients closer to home embark on. The two night hops to the Lake District & the trips across the North Sea to mainland Europe are the absolute foundation of Sky High Sports. Jamie & Harry will be travelling to Belgium & The Netherlands later this month to meet with Hostels, Hotels, Rugby Clubs & Activity Centres to gather greater knowledge on the destinations which year on year are our most popular. In 2020, London Scottish RFC, Morpeth RFC, Wellingborough RFC, Virginia RFC (EIRE) & University of St Andrews Women’s XV are some of the clubs heading this way in the coming months.
For those who’ve made it this far, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a successful and enjoyable 2020. We always set our ambitions high at Sky High Sports & sincerely hope the extra distance we go reaps benefit on each and every tour to every passenger who steps afoot the tour bus.
All the best,