Let’s Go Punting x 2021
We did it! We not only survived 2021 but we thrived. Despite everything going on in the world and the challenges all small businesses faced we are still standing strong.
So let’s take a look back at this year.
Rough start (January to March)
Alongside the majority of the hospitality industry, our year on the river didn’t start until the third month of the year. Despite that we were busy behind the scenes maintaining the boats, refreshing our website and improving our booking system.
On the river, we were closed due to lockdown until the 29th of March, when we were finally given the green light to reopen (albeit a bit last minute due to a late update in the DEFRA guidance).
On the 29th of March, we were able to open! We did, of course, ensure we followed government guidelines and we did everything we could to keep our staff and customers safe. This meant keeping our perspex screens, keeping separate households/bubbles distanced from each other and continuing our enhanced cleaning procedures.
The perspex screens are a plastic barrier that we placed between each section of our boats. This meant that customers were seated in their own ‘bubbles’ on the boats and we were able to maintain social distancing.
In addition to the pressure of opening week, on the 31st of March, we went live on ITV with This Morning! We were joined by Alison Hammond and Josie Gibson who were looking at some of the industries/businesses which were opening in the first wave of COVID restriction easing. It was such a fun morning and Alison and Josie even had a go at punting! Whilst they mostly drifted downstream, they definitely enjoyed themselves!
We had been on the lookout for a new picnic supplier and on the 10th of April launched our new partnership with All-on-Boards who produce delicious grazing style picnic boxes. There’s nothing better than gliding down the river Cam, taking in the scenic views, and grazing on one of our gorgeous picnic boxes.
With Brunch, Deli, and Afternoon Tea picnic boxes on offer there is something for everyone. If you’re looking to add a picnic to your punting experience you do need to book at least 48 hours in advance and bookings can be made directly through the picnic punting page of our website.
On the 19th of April we released our brand new website with live availability and same-day bookings up to 30 minutes before the departure time. We love the modern, bright look of our site with easy navigation showcasing all of our different punting tours, additional activities and gift vouchers.
The sweet month of May! We enjoyed the beautiful weather and sharing our wonderful city with our customers.
On the 10th of May, we were visited by the Visit England assessment team and were thrilled to receive an overall rating of 86%, an increase of 2% from our last visit. Here is the summary of their report:
“On this latest assessment, Let’s Go Punting achieves an overall score of 86% and therefore continues to be accredited under the VisitEngland Quality Scheme.
The score this time shows an improvement on the 84% achieved at the June 2019 assessment with improved scores in the key areas of cleanliness and staff.
Cleanliness scores are impressive, achieving 100%, no mean feat to keep the punts and the equipment so clean, commendable too given the extra precautions necessary due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Excellent standards of customer care were delivered by the chauffeur on the tour, and a very good welcome received at the landing stage too, resulting in an impressive 91% achieved in the Staff scores section.
The tour was delivered by Rufus in an interesting and relaxed manner with plenty of anecdotes, humour and factual information, and also brief moments of peace, essential in a 50 minute tour. This punting tour was thoroughly enjoyable and fully met visitor expectations and is within reach of triggering a nomination for a VisitEngland Best Told Story Award Accolade at the next assessment. Just one score needs to improve in the tour section to achieve the 90% required.”
We had a live music performance on the river by Dorothea, she serenaded us with her beautiful voice on the river. Performing live music whilst being chauffeured up and down the river.
We were overjoyed to be able to bring music back to the river Cam and we hope to bring back our annual music on the river next year.
We also launched our Free Interactive City Guide. This is an interactive pdf which can be accessed from our booking confirmations. The guide includes sections on the University, Museums & Galleries, Green Spaces, Photographic View Points and Food & Drink. Also included is a fantastic Local Discounts section with money off some of Cambridge’s best Cafes, Restaurants and Shops. It really is the ultimate guide you need when visiting Cambridge – and the best bit is its completely free for our customers!
On the 4th of July, we partnered up with the City View Wheel for the ultimate giveaway. The winners received a 6 person ticket for a shared punting tour and a ride on the city view wheel in their own gondola. All they had to do was follow both companies on Instagram and a comment to be entered into the giveaway.
Small local Cambridge businesses supporting each other is part of what makes this city great!
On the 20th of July, we released our family ticket! We understand that families want to participate in fun activities and for larger groups, tourist attractions can be quite expensive. For this reason, we introduced our family ticket for up to 6 people with a maximum of 2 adults. As parents with young children ourselves it’s important to us that by offering family rates and discounted early morning tours we make our services more affordable for families.
On the 23rd of August, we won the Tripadvisors Traveller’s Choice Award. This means we are in the top 10% of attractions worldwide! So we want to send a massive thank you to everyone who took the time to leave us a review. As a small business reviews really do mean a lot to us and we welcome all of your feedback.
At the turn of 2022 we are delighted to have over 3000 5-star reviews – the highest of any punting company in Cambridge.
September saw the official launch of Virtually Visting. A fantastic new virtual tour platform bringing affordable tours from all over the world into your, phone, VR headset and living room. Their tours offer and emmersive 360 view and are a fantastic way to experience incredible places you may not be able to visit in person. We are proud to be one of the tours avaiable on their platform. So if you aren’t able to come punting or want to check it out before visiting us then head over to Virtually Visitng and take a punting tour along the Cam with Captain Jack!
Introducing our NEW Halloween Scavenger Hunt! For Halloween and the October half term, we came up with a scavenger hunt that would result in a sweet treat. With parts of the hunt taking place on the river and other parts around the city, you needed to complete the questions to reveal an exclusive code.
Partnered with Hardys Original Sweetshop, another Cambridge small business, to provide your prize. The Halloween Scavenger Hunt was such a success that it will be back next year, so make sure to keep an eye out for it in 2022.
We pulled some boats off the river! Once a year we take some of our boats off the river to do repairs and maintenance. This requires most of our chauffeurs to lend a hand as our traditional, flat bottomed boats are heavy!
With our Halloween Scavenger Hunt having been such a success we put one together for Christmas. Like the Halloween hunt, our Christmas Punt and Hunt also includes ‘On the River’ and ‘Around the City’ sections, however, you only need to complete the On the River section to receive your prize!
We also reached one of our new year goals set at the end of 2020! That was to bring back Christmas carols on the river – our annual festive charity event.
For the third year, we were joined by the St John the Evangelist Choir to perform Carols in aid of a charity named Blue Smile. Blue Smile is an organisation that supports vulnerable young children, and if you wish to learn more about them then head on over to their website.
Overall 2021 has been a great year for Let’s Go Punting, despite the challenges we faced due to Covid-19 and we look forward to seeing what 2022 brings us!
If you are interested in joining any of our fantastic special events do contact us in advance to be added to the events waiting list. If you have been punting with us this year don’t forget to leave your feedback on google to support us.