A firm which specialises in providing alpaca trekking adventures, has expanded its digital capabilities and secured local council funding following Business Gateway support after the business launched at the end of 2020.

Situated in the beautiful Ardgowan Estate, near Greenock, West Coast Alpacas is to offer an outdoor activity with a difference. Visitors can take part in off-road walking treks accompanied by the ever-popular animal, the alpaca.

Founded in December, 2020, by Fred and Francesca Wade, the family run firm launched with the hope of diversifying the tourism offering in the local area and promoting an exciting option for the daily, socially distanced walk.

As well as 1:1 start-up advice with a business plan, routes to funding, company regulations and marketing support, Business Gateway signposted co-owner, Francesca to a suite of digital training programmes such as Google my Business, a platform that drives customer engagement.

As a result of these improvements to their online presence, West Coast Alpacas experienced a 60% increase in social media engagement and was fully booked until March, 2021.

Renowned for being well trained and gentle animals, West Coast Alpacas currently operates with eight of them which share a paddock on site and offers two treks on Saturdays and Sundays around the Inverclyde region. The business hopes to add three more alpacas to its family and run seasonal events throughout 2021 – when it is safe to do so.

Francesca Wade, West Coast Alpacas, said: “Being lovers of the outdoors, we wanted to add something special to our local area. We have such a great community spirit here in Inverclyde and we want to encourage people to explore what's on their doorstep.

“From our first conversations with Business Gateway at the end of 2020, we’ve been able to establish our website and social media presence and in a very short time have developed an effective online booking platform, EventSmart, where customers can easily book a slot to visit.

“Through a range of webinars, Business Gateway has equipped us with the necessary skills to increase our customer-base and signposted us to the wider network to secure financial support from the council.”