Gossiping with…Newmarket Holidays’ Richard Forde (aka ‘Lycra Man’)

Gossiping with Richard Forde
By Linsey McNeill
15/04/2024
Home » Gossiping with…Newmarket Holidays’ Richard Forde (aka ‘Lycra Man’)

When he’s not working as Newmarket Holidays’ Head of Trade Sales and Partnerships, Richard Forde can be seen peddling around the Cotswolds where he lives with his family and two Labradors. Here he tells us a little more about his life.

My first job was as a cruise ship photographer. I worked on various Royal Caribbean and Regent Seven Seas ships taking portrait pictures. I don’t think I’d like to work on cruise ships now, you’d need a map and a compass to find your way around.

My first job in travel was at Farthing Holidays in Leicestershire. I was photographing an event for them, the owner saw that I was good at talking to people and offered me a job.

The highlight of my career was winning a clean sweep of travel industry awards last year, including Travel Gossip Agents’ Favourite Mainstream Touring Company. When I joined Newmarket in 2010 no-one had heard of us, or they thought we were direct sell, now more than half our business comes from agents, and to win every award we entered last year was amazing. 

I could see the Newmarket’s biggest growth opportunity was through travel agents.  We were a reader offer-based company when I joined, but now over half of our business comes through the trade. We have a team of seven on the road and an in-house agent support team and call centre too.

If I could give some advice to my 20-year-old self I’d say have more confidence. I used to put myself down a bit, but as you get older you get more confident and worry less what people think. 

When I’m not working, I’m watching Leicester City FC, I’m big sports fan and I’m also a big road cyclist. I’m one of those annoying MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra)! It’s great exercise and clears your head. This September I’ll be going across the Pyrenees, which will be a challenge, and three years ago I cycled across the Italian Dolomites, which was very difficult.

I enjoy the social aspect of my job, such as awards events, but only till 12pm. From then on, I leave it to the younger members of the team, especially is there is some act coming on from X Factor, you definitely won’t see me on the dancefloor these days – unless they are going to start playing something from the mid-80s, new romantics era.

All members of my team have been with me for many years. People don’t tend to leave Newmarket, so I must be doing something right! I don’t like to manage from an ivory tower, I like to go onto the ‘shop floor’ as much as possible, such as trade shows.

I moved to the Cotswolds from Leicestershire about 20 years ago. I work from home mostly now, which I enjoy, I’m quite organised so I’m good at it, but at Newmarket we encourage people to come to the office two or three days a week, it’s especially important in creative roles, you need to bounce ideas around.

I’m TIPTO Chair until September, when I’ll hand the ‘silver pen’ on to someone else. It’s quite a nice role, everyone wants to join TIPTO, and I’m pleased to say that now we’re full, with a waiting list. I enjoy the role, TIPTO was a big reason for Newmarket’s growth with the trade.

It sounds a bit cliched, but if asked to name someone I admire it would have to be Sir Richard Branson. I like his ambition, the energy, the uniqueness and the individual strength of thought.

Quick Questions:

  • Football or rugby? Football – big Leicester City fan!
  • Curry or pizza? Curry, more fun, more social !
  • Cruise or ski holiday? Ski – I spent enough time working on ships!
  • Pint or whisky? A pint of crisp cold Pilsener!
  • Tie on or off? Always a tie off man, I feel times have moved on!

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