Driven ambition seals global deals
Michael O’Hare’s chauffeuring business has made in-roads around the world, but he has no plans to hit the brakes just yet, writes Ron Clark
YOU know what it’s like when you step off the plane, your right arm slightly fatigued from lifting coupes de champagne, and all you want to do is be whisked away from the tedium of the airport to that nice suite in the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong or the Ritz Carlton in Central Park, New York.
You know, too, how convenient it is to have a sleek black car waiting for you, with a smartly turned-out driver who knows your name and your preferences in drinks and newspapers. You don’t? Well, luckily, there’s a man who does. He’s based in Govan, Glasgow and has built a multi-million pound Scottish company making sure people for whom time is money are never in the invidious position of wasting a moment.
Step forward Michael O’Hare, a son of Cambuslang whose global chauffeuring enterprise The Booking Room now reaches deep into the classier quarters of London, Hong Kong, Paris, New York and, later this year, Brazil.
If a team of Goldman Sachs’ Masters of the Universe or a duo of Deutsche Bank’s dashing dealers are in town, they are likely to be wearing out their Blackberrys in the back of a Booking Room Beamer.
Or, if the musical mayhem of the MTV awards needs a short notice fleet of 150 limos to get stars to the right place at the right time, the organisers have The Booking Room on speed dial.
It’s a lucrative niche position in a crowded and competitive market which has pushed The Booking Room turnover to £14m in the year ended December 31 – a figure which is projected to double to £28m by the end of 2014.
It’s not a niche for the fainthearted. Of the MTV awards, for which he has provided transport for eight out of the past 10 years, Michael O’Hare says: “It’s more like a sleep deprivation exercise for a week than a contract.”
But it’s quite clear that the 47year-old former professional golfer is quite comfortable in his niche and is plotting to expand into new markets and embark on a major rebranding exercise in the coming year, as well as building the US business to match UK figures.
Appropriately for one of the smartest, hi-tech ground transportation businesses around, it has been quite a journey, with plenty of twists and turns to maintain interest along the route.
It began in the baronial splendour of the Sherbrooke Castle Hotel, which O’Hare’s father owned in the leafy suburbs of Glasgow’s south side. Michael was involved in the family business, but found time to become a golf pro at Gleddoch, trying for his European Tour card.
When he was 21, however, his