Getting to know you: Chris Airey

What do you currently do?
I am managing director of Diversity Travel, a Travel Management Company which specialises in developing cost effective travel arrangements for the charity and academic sector to both familiar and more remote parts of the globe. We currently have offices in London, Manchester and Melbourne. I am also a co-owner of The Green House, a boutique hotel in Bournemouth, the most environmentally-friendly hotel in the UK.

What is your inspiration in business?
What inspires me in business is constantly striving to do better and achieve more in everything we do.

Who do you admire?
Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, who as a human rights activist and environmental campaigner built her business on the foundation of strong principles. Her ethics helped her to build a business around core values which remain within the business today.

Looking back, would you have done things differently?
No, not really. There may have been minor things that I may have changed but overall, I am pleased with what we have achieved at Diversity Travel and very proud of the team.

What defines your way of doing business?
Ethics and people are at the core of our business. We work with over 2,000 charities and Not-for-Profit organisations and while our main service is to manage cost-effective domestic and international travel on their behalf, we believe it is important that people across all areas of our business understand our clients’ work and the pressures they face. We are fully supportive of employees who wish to fulfil volunteer activities and Ben Slaymaker, one of our most recent hires, is a prime example. He joined the team at the end of last year and he has recently returned from a trip to Haiti where he helped establish and continues to manage a medical clinic for displaced victims of the 2010 earthquake.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
If you’re thinking about starting a business, think carefully about what it involves. You’ll need to be able to keep yourself motivated while working long days as well as weekends.

Many people think of the upside of being their own boss and may not think, or be aware of the reality which is when you start you will be responsible for everything from the smallest of tasks through to the major decisions at the same time as setting the strategy and leading the business. It takes a lot of hard work over a sustained period of time, but it is extremely rewarding when you see your business grow, with the values you have established integrated into everyday practice.