A mother-of-two from West Yorkshire has used her own experiences to launch a child-friendly holiday business.
Jo Addison’s website Kiddieholidays is designed to help families with pre-school children find suitable accommodation and activities in the UK and Europe.
Jo, who lives in Gomersal and runs her business from a base at Hub 26 in Cleckheaton, said the idea first came to her when she was on maternity leave with her first child.
“My son was only little and we wanted to go to Wales on holiday, but we found it difficult to book somewhere suitable that did not cost the earth,” said Jo.
“It just got me thinking that there must be thousands of families in the same position who can’t afford a luxury place that works for them. They might just want to go camping or glamping or stay in a cottage, and it can be so hard to find somewhere.”
Jo, who was then working for Jet2 Holidays part-time, started the website as a hobby in her spare time, writing blogs and collaborating with holiday and activity providers. The business slowly evolved into a listings site until last September Jo decided to make the leap and quit her job.
“I was 40 last year and I thought it is now or never to work for myself. But what is really great is that doesn’t feel like work because I am so passionate about it,” said Jo.
“I just want to give families more choice. They might want to go to Majorca or Cornwall. And they just need to know simple things like is there a baby monitor or cot or soft play area. And then the rest of the family might appreciate a baby-listening service or spa treatment for them.”
She uses a team of freelancers to write the copy, and aims to become the go-to website for families with babies or toddlers.
But Jo admits that her timing was unfortunate with the lockdown effectively putting the business into temporary hibernation. Despite this, her turnover has doubled since last year and the number of visitors to her website has increased to 150,000 a month.
She is working with more and more holiday property owners, holiday parks and leisure activity providers and getting plenty of enquiries already for 2021 as people look to book their staycations with a reputable holiday provider.
“The impact of COVID-19 has been challenging, but at the same time it has created an opportunity for the business, as it means parents are much more conscious of the need to find a high quality and safe place to take their children,” said Jo.
The lockdown has also given Jo the time to develop the business and improve the website ahead of the official launch with help from AD:VENTURE, a programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
“Their help has been invaluable. They have helped with everything from actually running a business through to search engine optimisation and supporting me to focus on what exactly the business is all about,” said Jo.
“I have been on workshops and webinars covering everything from content creation to maximising the customer journey and taken so much from these. The quality of the presenters is excellent and all of them are industry experts who a new business might otherwise struggle to access in the early stages.”
AD:VENTURE’s funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities.
Councillor Peter McBride, Kirklees Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “It is great to see someone like Jo turn her passion and expertise into a thriving business. It just shows that with practical support it is possible to take that step and start your own successful enterprise.
“Programmes like AD:VENTURE are all about helping new businesses of all shapes and sizes and that is so important particularly now when we are faced with massive economic challenges.
“Success stories like this are exactly why we support this programme. In such difficult economic times, I’m sure it will give hope to many others who read about Jo’s achievements.”
To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/