High Flyers: Respect is always a two-way street for Caroline
In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Caroline McComb, director of McComb’s Coach Travel in Belfast.
What was your first job?
I was 13 when I first started work as a waitress in a hotel in Portadown. I loved it as it gave me great independence.
What qualifications do you have?
I left school at 16 and went to the Catering College in Portrush to do a BTEC in Hotel & Tourism and then stayed on to do an HND in Hotel & Tourism Administration.
What do you attribute your success to?
Hard work and determination. My husband Rodney and I are both really hard workers and have a real yes attitude. We run the family business McComb’s Coach Travel together, and if we think a new project is worth giving a go, or someone asks us to, we always say yes and try our best to make it a success.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
If I’m being brutally honest, I’d say I’m a bit stubborn and never ask for help with things I feel I should be able to do myself.
Who do you look up to in business?
There are so many people, but I really admire people who start businesses from scratch. It is such a massive risk to stop having a steady income to become self-employed, so you have to have so much courage and confidence in what you’re doing.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
By them working with us not for us. We’re all human beings, all with our own skills and needs, and we all need each other. Respect is a two-way street, and I can honestly say we currently have the best workforce we’ve ever had.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
Working in an industry like tourism that has seen major growth over a relatively short period of time you find lots of businesses popping up that simply copy what you have been working on for 25 years and trying to compete is by cutting prices. I’d like more people here to work together and collaborate instead of against each other.
What website or app could you not do without?
Flightradar! When we’re in normal working times, we have lots of airport transfers, so we’re constantly watching flights coming and going.
What was the last book you read?
I’m not really a reader, I much prefer a long dog walk with a podcast.
What car do you drive?
A Range Rover Sport.
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I love DIY and interiors!
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
Travelling. I love seeing other parts of the world as well as exploring what Northern Ireland has to offer. After visiting Australia pre-pandemic, and seeing how many Australian people were taking day trips out of Sydney to places like The Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains, we thought if visitors can enjoy what’s on our doorstep, why can’t we too.
This was part of the inspiration for creating our new summer day trips which we launched in June to Belleek Pottery and Enniskillen; Newcastle; Strangford Ferry & Downpatrick; and Coleraine & Portrush (www.mccombscoaches.com).