Today we meet Cleopatra Browne from Celtic Quest Coasteering a Leisure & Tourism business.
Starting out as one woman and a van facilitating water based activities for family groups, Celtic Quest Coasteering has snowballed into one of the worlds leading coasteering providers. Exploring the Pembrokeshire coast at the point where sea meets land. Adventure swimming, scramble climbing, cliff jumping and more, coasteering is everything your parents tell you not to do at the beach!
Cleopatra loves the coast, and grew up adventuring on the Gower in South Wales. Cleopatra now lives a couple of miles from the Pembrokeshire coast. Walking her dogs at the beach every morning, rain or shine. She has worked in the outdoor industry for over 20 years, running her own company since 2009 loving the fact she gets paid to play in the sea! Cleopatra enjoys anything to do with the coast but scuba diving is her absolute favourite- which can be somewhat of a challenge in uk at times. Cleopatra is a trustee and volunteer marine mammal medic with the Welsh Marine Life Rescue, dashing about the coast rescuing injured or abandoned animals. Work life balance is just about right, working hard all summer long, autumn is spent rescuing seal pups then winter is for playing (often jumping on a plane to find some sunshine and warmer waters!).
Celtic Quest Coasteering was founded in 2009, and are one of the worlds top coasteering providers. It’s all the team do, while they may not have invented it they are working hard to perfect it!
Every year almost 5000 people come to join them for an adventure, with their specialist team of coasteering guides. Winners of various national and international awards including Best Visitor Experience in Wales at the National Tourism Awards, they are a micro organisation with a big personality.
Having worked in the outdoor industry for many years Cleopatra saw an opportunity to offer water based adventures to all, not just extreme adrenaline enthusiasts. Her grandad said that when Cleopatra got to his age, she’d feel better having tried and failed than not to have tried at all. So she gave it a go. The final swing was Barclays agreeing to loan her the £5k needed to startup. This was just enough to purchase a bit of kit, insurance and a cheap website. Year one she was working full time for another adventure company and running activities for herself on days off and evenings. Year two Cleopatra was able to devote 100% of her working hours to the business. In the winter of 2010 she spent countless hours learning to code and developed a new website. This kickstarted their business marketing success. Having got to grips with google search, they quickly overtook the competition in search results. Add to that; the constant stream of 5* reviews on various platforms they were off. It all got exciting and very real rather quickly. Cleopatra now has a wonderful balance of a job she loves, a successful business and a commitment to family and the conservation of the coastline.
Growth, this season saw the team put a cap on capacity, choosing instead to increase the price and offer a more bespoke adventure. This not only improves the experience, making it more intimate with smaller groups but almost as importantly makes the ‘work’ easier and more enjoyable for the team.
When asked what Cleopatra would consider her greatest achievement so far she said “We have won a number of awards but two stand out, the first is the National Tourism Awards, we were a tadpole up against some whales! We won the Best Visitor Experience in Wales, then about half an hour later they announced that we had also won the best use of Technology in Tourism. Being awarded Welsh Company of the Year was bonkers, again up against not only whales but business wide not just the tourism industry. The winning is awesome but I get such a buzz from a finalist announcement. Besides the hard work that the team and I put in daily, an award entry can take a couple of hours to put together, I send in the entry and am usually so busy I forget all about it. Then I receive an email…congratulations, you’re a finalist. Mind – blown – every – time! I think it’s because we don’t see what we do as special, we enjoy it so much. An infectious enthusiasm”.
We also asked what would be Cleopatras proudest moments to which she responded “Proud moments, twice this year alone my team have jumped into action on their lunch break. We run two sessions per day, kicking back at lunchtime for a short break. People watching is our number one pass time during lunch. One of our guys spotted a couple of young girls being sucked out to sea in a rip current. Not long out of the water, two of the team were still in their wetsuits. They immediately went into rescue mode. One took to the sea, swam out to the girls, another scampered across the rocks to effect the rescue from land. The girls were out and safe but unbeknown to the team, a rather rotund beer oddled ‘dad’ had jumped in to help. Rescuing dad was far from easy, he was a big guy and by the time the team got him to land he was barely able to stand. Massive waves pumping through made it even more challenging. All made their way bay back to the carpark, coastguard were stood down and all was well. My team were awesome, so proud to have trained them and knowing I could rely on their instinct and skill 100%!”
Cleopatras top tip… partnering with ‘whales’. Cleopatra has learnt so much from various big brand marketing teams, and business strategy from the owners not to mention the boost to the brand is always priceless!
Visit the website here: https://www.celticquestcoasteering.com
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