James and Tamara Lohan recognise that romantic weekends away aren’t for playing Scrabble.
The married couple have been injecting the fun into travel ever since walking out of a Lake District spa hotel in 2001, where they had been unexpectedly weighed on check-in and put on a calorie-controlled diet.
Speaking to Michael Hayman on Capital Conversation, the Mr & Mrs Smith founders shared their success story of building a brand founded on the recognition that people go away to have fun.
But how did their travel guide, featuring their pick of hotels around the world, become a global travel club that will have generated £100,000,000 worth of bookings by the end of the year?
“What makes our service so special is that all our recommendations are based on all the insider stuff that a good friend would tell you,” James says. “Neither of us had any background in publishing, travel or technology, so I think this proved that it comes from a couple who are passionate about travel and changing the way we travel.”
From smashing expectations with their initial guidebook, with 20,000 sales in three months, two years after first publication in 2003 the decision was made to expand the business and create the Mr & Mrs Smith hotel booking website.
By 2015, Mr & Mrs Smith was operating in more than 80 countries, with over 1000 hotels on its platform. Last year the company closed a crowdfunding round that raised £6 million.
James argues that the route to the couple’s success is naivety – “The best weapon of an entrepreneur” – but Tamara adds that their ongoing success however comes from a dedication to what they do: “There is no easy route to success. You need to work incredibly hard and be in love with what you do.”
Watch the full episode here.