After launching the business at the age of 18, Christina Lawford’s ability to identify opportunity and spot trends has seen DiamondAir’s growth take off over the past 27 years. “Two factors were important to that growth,” says Christina. “The first was our ability to get approved airside access at Heathrow and the second was taking the business international to meet the demand of our global travellers. Our core Airport Concierge product now operates at 600 airports worldwide, with our Platform Concierge and Airport by Invitation running alongside.”
A challenge like no other
Having built the business from nothing and faced the tremendous impact that both 9/11 and the ash cloud had on the air travel industry, Christina felt confident in her ability to steer DiamondAir through anything. However, nothing could prepare her for the impact of COVID-19. “We went from having 60,000 bookings a year in 2019 to just 14 in April 2020,” she says. “This has been hugely challenging. As well as being sad to see the impact on the travel industry, it’s been personally hard. I’ve never had to make people redundant before – the business has always been a job creator – and suddenly I had to cut 50% of my workforce.”
When faced with a challenge, Christina admits that her normal response is to find the opportunity. “I’d usually draw on my entrepreneurial spirit, be quite excited and look at where we could go. But this situation felt so bleak and so uncertain, that it was difficult to do that at first.”
The experience of operating with a skeleton team, with many staff initially furloughed, however, meant that everyone had to muck in and that need to multi-task offered Christina the creative spark to adapt to the new normal.