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20 Years in the fast lane: TrackDays' Manager Dan Jones reflects on two decades with the company - News

As I celebrate my 20th anniversary with TrackDays.co.uk today, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey that has brought me here. It's been an exhilarating ride, filled with challenges, innovations, and countless unforgettable experiences. Let me take you through some key reflections on my time with the company and the remarkable evolution we've witnessed over the past two decades.

How it all started

My journey with TrackDays.co.uk began in an unexpected way. Back in early 2004, I was working as a personal trainer, and one of my clients was James Richardson, a serial entrepreneur with a knack for spotting opportunities. One day, James invited me to join him for a track day at Brands Hatch. He had some Radical SR3s, and the experience of driving these incredible machines around the track blew me away. I had no idea that such experiences were accessible to the public.

On the drive back home, James told me he had acquired the ‘TrackDays.co.uk’ domain name after recognising a market gap for a comprehensive track day company which offered a one-stop shop to book various track days and driving experiences on professional circuits. He pitched the idea of working for the company, and before I knew it, I was working in the office, taking bookings and managing the website. It was a whirlwind start, but one that set the stage for an amazing journey.

The early days of the business

The early days were a blend of excitement and challenge. We operated the business primarily using spreadsheets, taking track day bookings over the phone and manually populating charts. Online bookings were starting to gain traction, but the systems were basic compared to today's standards, and consumer behaviour was such that most people were not quite ready to book online yet.

James was a great mentor, teaching me about SEO and digital marketing while we worked tirelessly to get the business off the ground – all while we kept training together at the gym! Those were days of long hours and steep learning curves, but the thrill of building something kept me going.

Driving experiences

One of the most exciting aspects of our business was offering driving experiences where people could drive supercars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis for laps around a circuit. This is where the gift voucher model came in. People loved the idea of gifting such unique experiences to their loved ones, and it quickly became a significant part of our business. I remember printing vouchers off a colour printer in the office, a far cry from our current streamlined operations. The gift voucher model was a game-changer, allowing us to reach a wider audience and scale the business.

One year in

About a year into the business, we started to see significant growth. Admin tasks, which had been a major time drain, were delegated as we hired more staff and developed a CRM system. I took on more responsibility, overseeing strategic projects and managing a small team of developers, designers and customer service staff. This shift allowed me to focus on bigger picture strategies and operations, and it was incredibly rewarding to see the business evolve.

Early adopters of SEO: trailblazers in digital marketing

In the early 2000s, many businesses were still catching up with the digital revolution. Few had proper SEO strategies, and some didn't even have websites. We were one of the early adopters of SEO, recognising its potential to drive traffic and reach customers. I take great pride in our early SEO efforts, which were quite different from today's practices. Back then, you could rely on keyword stuffing and simple link-building tactics. However, as search algorithms evolved, we adapted quickly, ensuring we stayed at the top of the rankings and continued to attract customers.

PPC and the rise of mobile

With the rise of mobile phone usage in the 2010s, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising became increasingly important. Mobile users tend to see only the first few results, which are often sponsored content. Even with a strong SEO strategy, it was crucial to invest in PPC to maintain visibility. This shift required us to be agile and innovative in our marketing approach.

A competitive marketplace

The driving experience market has become significantly more competitive over the years. Twenty years ago, a basic Ferrari Experience for instance might have cost around £100, but now similar packages can be found for a third of the price. Despite this increased competition, we've maintained our edge by focusing on superior customer service and website booking technology. We offer phone lines where customers can speak to real people, and we ensure that every interaction, whether online or over the phone, reflects our commitment to excellence.

Once in a lifetime experiences

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job is knowing that we are in the business of creating memories. For many people, driving a supercar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a bucket list item. Being able to deliver these experiences and see the joy it brings to our customers has been incredibly rewarding.

FlyDays.co.uk and Experiences.co.uk

As we developed as a business, we saw a growing demand for a wider range of experience days beyond driving. This led us to launch FlyDays.co.uk, offering aviation experiences such as Spitfire rides, aeroplane flying lessons and helicopter flights. We also introduced Experiences.co.uk, which encompasses everything from locomotive experiences to animal petting and spa days. These expansions have allowed us to bring even more satisfaction to our customers and broaden our offerings beyond the driving experiences market.

Looking ahead

As I look back on the past 20 years, I am proud of the journey we have been on. From humble beginnings to becoming a leader in the driving experience industry, it's been an incredible ride. I am excited about what the future holds for TrackDays.co.uk as we continue to innovate and provide unforgettable experiences for our customers.

In conclusion, my time with TrackDays.co.uk has been marked by growth, learning, and a lot of fun along the way. I am proud of what we've accomplished and look forward to many more years of creating memories for our customers.

The website in 2004!

Trackdays Dan Jones 2004
20 Years in the fast lane: TrackDays' Manager Dan Jones reflects on two decades with the company
04 July 2024
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