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By Tarvin Webteam - 20th November 2013 12:00am
Our Local Tour Company — Carefree Coach Holidays
If your job is driving your customers, how can it be that your customers drive you? If this seems double Dutch, then let me explain. Oscroft based Carefree Coaches, owned and run by Andy Shaw-Pollard and his wife, Olive, has been in the business of driving its customers on one to five day trips and tours for over 30 years. Over this period it has often been a pioneer in the tour industry by making what the customer wants the driving force in both its day to day operations and its longer term development.
For instance, Carefree Coaches was one of the very first to introduce home pickups for its passengers, a practice that has since been widely copied by other tour operators in response to customer demand. Andy is proud of the fact that all hotels and refreshment stops are personally chosen and vetted by him to ensure a high standard of service for his customers. He is proud of the fact that this attention to detail allowed him to recognise very early on that garden centres were branching out into cafes and restaurants and that this was an excellent opportunity to provide his passengers with good value for money refreshments.
What not many tour companies can ever copy, however, is Carefree Coaches flexibility if the weather turns inclement. Because Andy insists on doing his own research he is able to offer alternative suggestions to escape the weather and he then lets the passengers choose what they would like to do!
This very personal approach to the coach business was even highlighted at the inception of the Company back in 1983. At that time Andy had what is now commonly referred to as a portfolio career. He had his own business providing clients with a mobile motor vehicle repair service and complimented this in his spare time by doing school runs and day trips for a local coach firm. This latter experience was called upon when his wife's sister became seriously ill and as a final request said she would like to go on a coach trip with the family to Edinburgh. Some people might have responded by looking up tour brochures but Andy's solution was hire a coach and plan the trip himself. Unfortunately Olive's sister became too ill before the trip could take place but it was the eventual catalyst for the creation of Carefree Coaches. Initially Andy continued to hire coaches for trips but in 2000, he invested in a second hand coach and then two years later he bought his first brand new vehicle.
Some of the more memorable trips have been ones to the Dutch bulb fields, ghost trips to a haunted castle in County Durham, and Christmas trips, in which Andy has played the part of Father Christmas. On one trip to the Scottish Islands, Carefree Coaches even found itself with an entirely unplanned role in a local TV documentary, further demonstrating Andy's ability to cope with the unexpected.
Even I expressed surprise, however, when Andy told me that Carefree Coaches has even done sailing cruises to the Baltic. In my mind's eye I formed a picture of a Carefree coach being unloaded at each port of call for a day trip! Andy quickly explained that the coach stayed in this country but he and Olive joined his customers on the cruise and were, therefore, able to organise special arrangements and on-board events for the tour party.
In recent years with their children having flown the nest, Olive has been able join Andy on many of the trips and get more actively involved in Carefree Coaches' tradition of ensuring that their passengers' needs are met and their expectations exceeded. If, however, any of our readers now wish to sample the Carefree experience then you are going to have to move fairly quickly because Andy has announced that he going to cease day trips next year. The good news, however, is that he still plans to continue with the longer tours for another year.