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AMA: Richard Oborne, founder of LuxuryTrainTickets.com

AMA: Richard Oborne, founder of LuxuryTrainTickets.com

Everyone loves a side hustle success story. Richard Oborne is a prime example. He's the founder of LuxuryTrainTickets.com, a premier provider of (serious) luxury train travel which started off as a side project.

richard-oborne

Hi Richard! Let’s start by learning a bit about your company.

LuxuryTrainTickets specialises in luxury train journeys all over the world. Think five-star hotel on wheels and that perfectly describes the experience you'll get with one of our trains. 

We offer dining experiences where passengers enjoy freshly-prepared food cooked by talented chefs onboard (sometimes a few famous faces like Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux Jr come along for the ride).

And day trips to cities of interest across the UK and full-on holidays across Scotland, Ireland, Europe, Asia and beyond. Passengers can relax and see the world from the comfort of their own cabin.

Fantastic. How did the idea for LuxuryTrainTickets come about?

Our parent company is a gift experience brand that has been running since 1999. One of the best performing products we sold in the UK were luxury train trips.

LuxuryTrainTickets.com actually started off as a side project as I wanted to test a new CMS and CRM and I decided to use a product that was already performing.

A year later and LuxuryTrainTickets.com has performed far better than I could have expected. What started as a side-project is now one of my main focuses.

luxury

That worked out well! How do you keep your team aligned?

I like to give everyone as much freedom as possible as long as they meet the goals outlined for them. I don't have any crazy systems or management tools in place as I equally don't like spending too much time filling these out. 

I don't track anyone's individual time either like some companies do as this sends a message of distrust.

I simply catch up with everyone one-on-one at least once a week, schedule a group call with all teams and ensure everyone knows I am available should anyone need any help. 

The result is the work gets done and everyone is happy.

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

Keep in contact with everyone in your business as much as you can. Even those folks you may only see in passing throughout the office or once in a while, it's easy to disconnect. 

An email, Slack message or even a call could mean a lot to that person and it will do wonders for yourself as well.

We try and have a group Zoom call with everyone once a week or so, and while we do talk work we try and also catch up socially as well.

We're humans, so we still need that human contact, even if it is digital.

Couldn't agree more. What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

Worrying about the competition too much. Like anyone else we have competitors and some have made it obvious that they don't like us!

In the early days, I used to really read into everything they'd email us or call us about, but I then realised that if they're spending that much time and effort trying to throw us off our game, we must be doing something right to scare them!

tea-on-train

Well if you aren’t making somebody jealous, you’re not doing it right. And conversely, has it ever gone wrong? Have you ever experienced a business disappointment that led to something better?

There have been times when we have invested a lot of time into a service or software only to find it didn't work for us in certain situations.

We started off using some big brand software only to find out a few months later it didn't and couldn't do exactly what we wanted. 

It can be easy to sometimes go straight to the big names assuming their offerings are the best, but the alternatives we have in place now are so much more flexible.

It's taught me to be more open-minded and to look at all possibilities, not just the big default brands.

Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? What impact has it made?

Not yet as it's very early days but something I'd definitely like to explore. I think profit sharing is brilliant. It rewards everyone for their hard work and makes them feel much more a part of the company.

It really does! Give us an interesting fact about yourself that the business community doesn’t know.

I'm a drummer! I've played since I was about 10 years old, I've been in many bands, played many shows and recorded an album or two!

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Will Ferrell for sure! When I'm not in work mode I am all fun and laughter and that guy's humour aligns with mine perfectly.

Great choice! And finally, what does company culture mean to you?

Everything. You could have the best product in the world, but if the people behind it aren't aligned, on the same team or happy, you're not going to do very well. 

No one should dread going to work, we spend so much time working we should enjoy it and believe in the cause. Once work culture is in place, everything else just seems to fit into place.

Thanks so much for your time Richard. All the best.

AMA: Rebecca Donaldson, founder of MUSE Activewear

AMA: Rebecca Donaldson, founder of MUSE Activewear

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AMA: Mike McCudden, CEO of InfinitX

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Deri is not your average founder. Not only did he found BGI, buy a golf course and write the best selling book, ‘Strategy on a Page’, but he’s also a

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