Interview with Darren Burn of OutOfOffice.com
Brighton-based entrepreneur Darren Burn shares his business tips with beeepurple. Darren is co-founder of LGBT+ travel firm OutOfOffice.com
Describe your business in a few sentences
OutOfOffice.com provides tailor-made luxury travel with a focus on the LGBT+ community. Our sister company, Travel Gay, is an information resource for gay travellers all over the world. We are the biggest LGBT+ travel company in the world and we’re based in Brighton.
Where did the idea come from?
When I was travelling in Egypt, me and my boyfriend were rejected from a hotel – they refused to offer a room to a same-sex couple. If you’re an LGBT+ traveller the experience of travel is quite different. You’re not just thinking about what hotels and restaurants you might be interested in. You find yourself wondering if you’ll be safe. My experience in Egypt was the initial catalyst.
What makes your business unique?
I wish a company like mine didn’t need to to exist, but homosexuality is illegal in almost half of all UN member states. Out Of Office provides a very unique service, catering to a demographic with a lot of disposable income and very specific needs. We are extremely approachable and honest with our clients, providing the highest level of service and ensuring that their trip is seamless.
How do you market your business?
A lot of our brand awareness is down to word of mouth and our clients recommending the business. At this year’s London and Brighton Prides we did some outreach work and discovered that most people we met had heard of us. That’s quite a feat considering we’ve only been going for two years.
We also target the LGBT+ market very specifically with unique social media advertising, paid campaigns through Google and Facebook and our tailored newsletter. It’s amazing what you can do you if you have the right kind of data. We also produce a lot of content across both brands as it’s important to show our expertise and knowledge.
What has been your biggest business challenge and how have you overcome it?
Continuing to scale is the major challenge. As a business you have to keep growing. We know that when we reach the LGBT+ consumer, that they are likely to book with us and love our service. But we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. Next year we plan to take on investment to help us get our message out to the wider community.
To what do you attribute your business success?
Hard work, passion, more hard work and having the right team.
What one piece of advice would you offer to someone starting up?
Be prepared to live and breathe your work. There’s never a dull day, but there’s never an easy day either and so it’s important to be honest with yourself and commit fully and wholeheartedly.
What three skills are the most important for an entrepreneur to develop?
- Be hands on with everything. You can’t be an expert at everything but you have to understand all aspects of your business.
- Be commercially minded in everything you do. If your business isn’t making money you won’t have a business for long. I joke, but I really do count the paperclips!
- Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.
Any tools, resources or books you recommend?
- Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a great psychology book. Everyone in business should read it. You learn a lot about the odd and often contradictory ways the human mind works.
- Knowing your Myers Briggs MBTI personality type is always useful insight into how your brain ticks and how you interact with colleagues.
- In terms of resources, use your extended network. There is no point hiring people who think the same way as you. ‘Hire As’ – what I mean by that is ensure that you are hiring the best possible people and surrounding yourself with them.
- Become a spreadsheet whiz immediately and be meticulous with your numbers.