Having had a go on a Segway myself, I know how fun and novel these machines are, so when I got the chance to talk to Ben from Segway Unleashed, I was very interested to hear about the history and progression of a Segway company. These vehicles are still relatively new, so a rally experience like these make a great day out for the family or as a gift!
1) Please explain your journey as ‘Segway Unleashed’ so far.
I started in events during 2007 when I purchased a ‘Zorbing’ business based in Sussex. Once you’re within the industry you soon make lots of contacts and learn ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ which is how I became interested in Segways. I decided to invest in some Segways to run alongside the zorbing, but soon learned that the versatility and offering from the Segways far outshone that of the zorbing – and Segway Unleashed was born.
Knowing what the market was offering and what I knew customers enjoyed, I was able to design my activity to deliver a unique product, that’s brilliant fun, but also cost effective. Segway Unleashed has been so successful that in 2012 we opened a second site in Milton Keynes and have tripled the number of Segways we started with back when we started. To date we’ve had over 10,000 people ride with us, many of whom come back for more… so we must do something right!
It’s taken a long time, plenty of 18hr days, no weekends, blood, sweat and tears to develop the Segway Unleashed business. People don’t see the admin/business running side of the business – the web development, call handling, deal making, staff management, site and equipment maintenance, problem solving, it’s not easy and most of the time, not straight forward; an awful lot of time, effort and ideas going into the delivery of each Segway session we run. We’re a small business and in today’s environment it’s challenging, but that’s where the buzz comes from. Anyone can do a 9 to 5, but not everyone can say that built something from scratch that pays full time salaries, employs staff and consistently delivers a great product. And that’s what I enjoy!
The events industry is notoriously hard work, both financially and the time/hours you have to put in. However the thank you letters and emails we receive make it worthwhile. There is a tremendous satisfaction in getting a hand shake and recommendation, and we get that a lot.
2) What has been the biggest or most memorable event you’ve provided?
Segway Unleashed has been on TV numerous times, we’ve been invited on to X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Top Gear (although we can’t always attend sadly). We’ve even trained actors who are going to be using Segways on film shoots; it’s always fun to see them on TV afterwards seeing if they remember what they were taught! Through my efforts I have been made the official Segway dealer for the South of the UK which is great and I have sold Segways to some very well-known celebrities and Boy Band members (there’s only ‘one-direction’ they go when they jump on their new Segway).
Recently we attended a big charity event at Dunsfold (the Top Gear circuit) and we’re able to bring the Segways to the masses and support the children’s trust, which was a great feeling. We had Craig from Big Brother and Dean Gaffney riding about on them all day, they loved it!
We run countless stag and hen parties, birthday parties, and other special occasions. It’s always a great feeling to know you’ve made someone’s special day even better.
3) Is there any inside information you can give us?
We’re very methodical in our approach to Segway riding as in our line of business safety is a priority. People forget a Segway is NOT a toy. It’s a powerful vehicle (they’re not even street legal in the UK!), so we’re very hot on making sure customers are happy and understand the machine. This is one of the reasons our safety record is second to none! Our instructors are experienced and always on hand to assist and supervise.
Our experience is not about being stood on a Segway for an hour… that doesn’t really happen anywhere, and to be honest you won’t want to be on one for an hour, it hurts after a bit. Our event takes customers through all aspects of riding a Segway. We begin with the basics in the training zone, we then up the ante and move to our ‘off-road’ zone, where the skill set is different as you’re hitting, lumps, bumps, mud and even see-saws at our Milton Keynes venue. We finish off by ‘unleashing’ the power of the Segway in our high-speed zone, allowing customers to zip around the track at high speed and we finish on a race against the clock to see who can use all their new found skills to the max and get the fastest time around our track! Great fun!
4) Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you’d like to tell us about?
I have some ideas in the pipeline, but at the moment they are not for divulging I’m afraid!
Competitors are fine, however what we don’t like is undercutting. People who turn up and decide they’ll win business by being the cheapest, don’t last. The old rule is, buy cheap, buy twice, in our game I’d say it’s more, buy cheap, give customers a poor experience and go bust!
Today’s market is tough, people want value for money, but they also want quality… and that’s a tough call in any business to be fair. However our feedback is always extremely positive. Our staff are a big part of the session, we make it fun and personable, we then get repeat business and continue to grow.
5) What would you say is your most frequently asked question?
We get a lot of questions, most of which are answered on our website. Segways are suitable for both genders and an age range of about 10yrs to the over 70’s (our oldest rider was 75!).
We are weather dependant and therefore don’t run all year round and if we’re battling heavy rain and waterlogging, we won’t run… safety is priority!
Our sessions are group sessions so you don’t get your own Segway, but what we do offer is different to any other venue as we go through different zones all designed to push the Segway and customer to their max so by the end of your session, there’s not much you can do on a Segway that you haven’t done!