It never started out as a business idea….Treasure Trails started in 2005 in Cornwall when a Treasure Trail was written around the founder’s home town for a charity event. This proved such a success that he decided to write more Trails around Cornwall and sell them at craft shows for a bit of fun. Unbeknown to him, someone who had completed one of his Trails entered him into the Cornwall Tourism Business Awards; the result of which was a Silver prize. Not only did this drive him to want to win Gold the following year, it also led him to assess whether Treasure Trails could be written all over the country for millions of people to enjoy!
At the time, Steve Ridd had just left the military as a Major to return to his native Cornwall and support his wife’s career as a teacher. With (possibly too much) spare time on his hands, Steve got to work on writing well over 50 Trails across Cornwall and Devon, convincing his wife Teresa that Treasure Trails was a much better idea than teaching French!
The Trails in the early days were just the Murder Mystery theme, and were sold at local shows as rolled scrolls. Steve and Teresa put a lot of hard work and late nights into Treasure Trails in the early days and it paid off with Treasure Trails winning Gold the following year. Steve also got some mixed feedback from business guru Deborah Meaden, who saw Treasure Trails for sale at one of her holiday parks. It went a little bit like this… “fantastic idea, but that boy needs to sort out his marketing”.
The summer of 2006 saw a number of important changes happen. Steve met with local IT company IT West, who not only built the first Treasure Trails website but built in the facility for online orders for both printed Trails, and the digital PDF download version. That summer, he also put an advert out on the local radio station in the hope of selling some Trails. Well there weren’t any Trail sales off the back of it, but it did result in his first Treasure Trails franchisee. David Wright, a Scotsman living in Cornwall, heard the advert and contacted Steve about taking the Treasure Trails format to the West of Scotland. And so, whilst Steve worked at creating a franchise model, IT West were recruited once again to write bespoke software for the Treasure Trails franchisees via which a Trail could be written, published and then sold.
By the start of 2008, there were 8 franchisees writing Trails across different areas of the UK. With an estimated 10,000 Trails being sold to date, 2 members of staff were brought in to the business to help address Deborah Meaden’s concern; one being Aaron Hutchens who now runs the business.
By 2013, the number of franchisees increased to 40 as we grew our Trail catalogue and Trail sales. In addition to this Treasure Trails successfully completed a number of other projects including corporate team building events, educational projects and bespoke Trail writing for organisations and attractions.
In 2013 Treasure Trails went through a big change. It could be argued that the company had lost sight of its original vision which was to excite the population of the UK through a Treasure Trail, and so Phil Allatt came onboard as the new owner of Treasure Trails. Phil is the founder of IT West, so had always been part of the Treasure Trails evolution. He sat down with Aaron who presented a ‘back to basics’ business plan which forgot about all the other pies Treasure Trails had its fingers in, and just focused on writing, maintaining and selling outstanding Treasure Trails across the UK.
Today we estimate to have entertained well over 1,000,000 people within the UK with a Treasure Trail.
Our goal is to make sure that the 64,000,000 people who haven’t done a Trail do one soon! But it doesn’t stop there, we know that by continually working on the Trails to ensure that you have an outstanding experience, you will catch the trailing bug and want to do more. Yes, you may not be as fanatical as our two crazy Trailers Susan Perkins and David Chappel, who have done over 350 Trails between them. However, we hope that we are creating a great service and product for the whole family, who then turn to a Treasure Trail every time the question “what shall we do this weekend?” crops up.