The Loco2 company retreat, October 2018.
For a company with a culture as remote friendly as Loco2, getting the whole team together is a rare and special occurrence. After much organisation, and many train rides to bring us all together, team Loco2 descended upon rural Berkshire for the annual company retreat of 2018.
The arrival of Loco2...
The event brought together lots of new starters - some of whom had only just started at Loco2 a few days before - joining those who have been at the company for a number of years. We were also delighted to welcome two special members of our parent company, Oui.sncf.
Loco2 and friends were housed at four different inns belonging to the Epicurean Club, which offers a true taste of the English countryside.
At the retreat’s opening dinner we heard from our CEO, Dave Ashton, about how his vision for Loco2 - as a part of the SNCF family - relates to his favourite childhood story by Maurice Sendak: ‘Where The Wild Things Are’. A book for each of us received as an opening gift!
Dave sees Loco2 as being the ‘wild one’ in the SNCF family: a flexible and agile company with a big heart and big ambitions that we should take the risks to realise, but with the knowledge that in Oui.sncf we have an all-important secure base. For we are, and will always be, the industry disrupter determined to make the world a better place through rail. Such imagery - and Dave’s reading of the book - was the perfect start to an evening filled with some fine Loco2 “wild rumpus” in the form of great food, wine, and a few classic rounds of charades.
The next morning, gathered all together in the barn at The Bourne Valley Inn, we heard from Loco2’s team leaders in HR, Finance, and from Oui.sncf about our future as a company. All of it was considered in light of our strategy for giving customers around the world what they need from Loco2 to transform their overland travel experience: Low Cost, Local, Mobile, and Multi-Modal.
Loco2’s employees come from 15 different countries and speak more than 10 different languages, so it’s amazing to see so many unite behind a passion for customer service, cutting-edge technology and, of course, rail travel.
The discussions in full swing; no quiet coaches here!
However, the real talking point of the day came in the form of Loco2’s very own edition of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ or the ‘Loco2 Bake Off’ as the show will now be known...
Some of our finest bakers preparing for the tasks ahead.
Loco2 staff were put through their paces in the kitchen, tasked with creating an array of baked goods - from scones to a freestyle chocolate based tray bake.
The Loco2 logo and name in marshmallows and pistachios, all on a chewy, nutty bed of brownie goodness...
Some teams excelled, showing immense culinary technical precision and others stretched the very definition of ‘baking’, showing great flare, if not a little inexperience!
The pièce de résistance for all came in the showstopper round, in the form of a train; a tasty cakey train. Tasked with creating a train-shaped sponge cake, Loco2 certainly went wild - from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Sublime or ridiculous, the choice is yours...
As the teambuilding and presentations drew to a close, we had the chance to either take a country walk in rural Berkshire...
or a thrilling Tesla driving experience...
The boys set for lift-off
Drivers and walkers alike returned for another lovely dinner that lasted long into a Berkshire autumnal night.
Day 3, the finale, involved more presentations. Dave and Olivier took us on a fascinating trip through our business model - where it works and where it doesn’t (we’re not the only ones in this industry who have a lot of work to do to make money…), as well as the Marketing team who took everyone through the hive of activity they’ve been working on for the eight months. We then finished with a great presentation by our combined design, product and engineering teams, who lead us through Loco2’s 2019 product roadmap. We could tell you about it but then we’d have to kill you, so let us just say that it was - again - 100% focused on Low Cost, Local, Mobile and Multi-modal!
Dave in the barn, getting serious about pie charts
Finally, we brainstormed ideas about how we could help bring the Loco2 mobile apps to the forefront of travel booking. We gathered individual and collective ideas originating from some of the apps that we each use the most. It is this kind of collaboration and sharing that makes Loco2 such a happy and productive environment in which to work.
And so, just as we came, trains took us all home - or at least helped us along the way...
Loco2 is a truly global team, spread out around the world. So our retreat doesn’t just help us align about the direction in which we’re headed, it helps us get to know each other, build our culture, and forge working relationships that make us better at serving our customers.
We already can’t wait to do it all again next year.
Finally, we’d like to finish by acknowledging that 2018 has been a year of tremendous change at Loco2. We have more than doubled in size and have committed to marketing and product developments on a greater scale, and with greater urgency, than ever before.
Some faces will come and go but, just like most things in life, there are certain things that will always be the same. Loco2 will always be an eclectic and energetic group of avid travellers who want to make the world of train travel easier to navigate for all. Because we believe that better journeys matter - for you, for us, and for our planet.
Some of you reading this will have followed the company since the early days. The 2018 retreat marked a new chapter for us all and we hope you are as excited as we are to see what the future holds for Loco2.
If you’d like to see more of the retreat, feel free to watch this video.
Thank you all.