Last week we stopped by the Thames RIB Experience dock on Embankment Pier, where we got to meet some of the team and have a chat about the history of the company. We met the lovely lady working in the kiosk named Fiona who answered some questions for us on behalf of the team at the Thames RIB Experience.
Q1. How did Thames RIB start/ how was it founded?
Around 8 years ago by Dean and Charlotte who were in other professions at the time. Dean was an engineer and Charlotte was a mortgage adviser and then they came up with this brilliant idea. It was a struggle at first obviously, they had to start the business from their house. So, their home was their office. They then bought their first boat and originally only had a tiny little kiosk. You couldn’t get in it and it was very wind swept – the paper used to fly around everywhere! But the business took off from there and they bought a boat almost every year, developed the kiosk and opened another one in Tower Bridge. The coats now are a lot warmer for customers as well so everyone is super warm.
Q2. What would you say sets you apart from other boat companies?
To be fair, I haven’t really done the other ones so I can only comment from ours but I think the service here is better. We aim to personally greet each and every customer and we offer the photos that, as far as I know, no one else does. We have microphones whereas one has a recording of a person describing the sights. Our seats are comfier and our boats are the only ones that have James Bond in with our tour. So you get James Bond music at high speed, the mention of James Bond as we filmed him in the film Spectre and chased him down the river. We have our famous wall (which leads nicely on to our next question…..)
Q3. Have you had any celebrities on board?
There have been lots of celebrities aboard the Thames RIB, including David Beckham and Victoria, which was when he did the Olympic torch. We’ve also had David Walliams, Richard Hammond, Zane Lowe, Susan Boyle, Ant & Dec and many, many more!
Q4. What would you say is the best part of working here?
It’s the whole environment really and good rapport with the office. It’s mainly just myself in the winter, so I sometimes I have to occupy my time and talk to myself. But, I think it’s great all around, they really look after you and the idea that they have come up with makes it a really good environment to work in. It’s a small work place with few people so everyone really does get on well with each other. We all have nights out and staff parties which helps integrate each other and lets everyone get to know each other. I also love being on the boat, I think it’s absolutely glorious when I can sneak on!
Q5. What’s it like working in central London?
It can be stressful sometimes, with all the hustle and bustle and having to get the tube to work every morning. Other than that I think it’s great and I’m not really an office person anyway so I really enjoy working outside. It also gets a lot busier and manic in the summer. The other services on the pier have a lot of people loading so it gets a bit busy but we all help each other out. So this is really calm, in the summer it can be chaos. We do a few rescues sometimes, if we’re the nearest boat to the incident. Like the time the docks caught on fire we were the nearest boat. So they got an Innovation Award for that. Customers that have had to go on the rescue haves come back and said that was an adventure!
Q6. If you could advise your customers to do one thing what would it be?
I’d probably advise them to book the boat for New Years Eve! It is literally so amazing, I’ve done it for a few years now and sitting out on the Thames with the amazing buzzing atmosphere waiting for Big Ben to strike 12 is so great. You get some bubbly, chocolate and cakes on board and wait for the strikes. When the fireworks go off you’re just sat in the middle which is an amazing way to see all the lights and fireworks without standing between crowds of people!
Q7. Any plans for the future/anything you would like to add?
Just that Dean and Charlotte are really good and I really enjoy working for them! And apart from the occasional difficult customer, it’s a really nice environment to work in. Everyone is usually really happy and has a good time, it’s great to work here! And I just want to say thanks to Dean and Charlotte, they are always trying to think of new trips and expansion ideas. Watch out for Father Christmas on the boats as well!
We would like to thank Fiona and Thames RIB Experience for taking the time to answer some questions and we hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about the company!