The world-traveler shares with us his experiences and past-life. Dmitry delves into how the story of how the company came to be, and why IFlyFirstClass is the only cost efficient way to travel in luxury.
Destination Luxury: Can you tell us about yourself? Please share your background.
Dmitry Richie: I was born in Moscow, Russia. As a child I was exposed to the tough daily realities of that era and would often read travel books as an escape and fantasize about experiencing different cultures. I decided to leave Russia for the United States on my 21st birthday with $500 in my pocket in search of the American Dream. In 2008, I started working for a travel agency and after gaining experience and finding my passion I decided to start my own company. On January 10, 2010, my wife, Bianca, and I launched IFlyFirstClass in San Francisco, California. We built the company from the ground up and continue to expand today.
Destination Luxury: How did you start your business?
Dmitry Richie: I always wanted to travel when I was growing up. I started getting exposed to luxury travel through my job, but I couldn’t afford to buy a business or first-class ticket. I realized a lot of people had this problem and I thought there had to be a solution. That’s how my wife and I came up with the idea and we developed contracts with airlines as well as consolidator fares to achieve affordable first and business class tickets for our clients. Everyday we make people so happy and hear stories of how we made their dreams come true for a special occasion or honeymoon which is extremely rewarding and keeps us motivated.
Destination Luxury: What are three lessons you’ve learned?
Dmitry Richie: The top three lessons I have learned. Never give up no matter how hard it is from the beginning. Work hard, constantly. You can’t ever stop working on improving your business. Listen to other people’s ideas, but always go with your gut instinct.
Destination Luxury: If you could travel to one location, what destination would you choose?
Dmitry Richie: Japan. While there are so many places I would still love to see, Japan is special because it is extremely different from everything else. I’ve noticed that Japanese people have a completely different mentality that I have learned a lot from. As a population, they all care about the environment and have a lot of pride in their country. I believe their chefs are geniuses. We all have a lot to learn from Japanese gastronomy.
Destination Luxury: When and how were you struck by the travel bug?
Dmitry Richie: Traveling is such a unique experience because it forces you to grow from within. I am constantly learning from every destination I visit as I experience their culture and way of life. When I am in a new city, I am constantly inspired. I come up with new ideas and new ways to think of things without even trying. For me, traveling in itself is an education. The feeling you get from traveling is not something you can get from your television or computer. Meeting the people, tasting the food and physically seeing the world around me has been one of the greatest gifts in my life experience.
Destination Luxury: What has travel taught you?
Dmitry Richie: I have absolutely become more open-minded. Talking to locals and hearing their perspective has helped me see things from a different viewpoint as well. I have also become a more independent person, traveling alone has given me more confidence and has helped me overcome many fears.
Destination Luxury: What travel saving techniques would you recommend to others?
Dmitry Richie: My company of course! It isn’t just a travel agency. Our company is part of the new travel wave. Our team members can work one-on-one with a client to find the best deal and fit for them. We provide a personalized travel experience and can use our own personal experience and insider knowledge to help our clients save money. We not only tell you that it’s less expensive to fly to Europe in January and February, we can give you great ideas of what to do and where to eat while you’re there.