From group herds to experience tourism

From group herds to experience tourism

From group herds to experience tourism

The Greek startup Welcome Pickups covers with ambassador drivers all the needs of travelers (transport, travel products, job suggestions, information), from the moment of arrival at a new destination until their departure.

Some may see a tourist future for Greece with pharaonic hotel infrastructures, developed to the detriment of the natural environment and the “landings” of tourists on the islands, which gradually lose their particular character by choking, but they foresee without the hotelier. We are. The modern traveler has changed. He has other desires, other priorities, far from the mass tourism model. Its novelties, which had already started to appear before the coronavirus, have now dominated. The pandemic has changed the way we look at life – not to mention our vacations.

Young tourists love to explore and hate crowds. They seek meaning in their travels, greater connections, a deeper understanding of the places they visit. According to data from the Arival platform, young travelers choose to travel alone or in small groups and are looking for experience rather than luxury. Private tours are now increasingly preferred over old-fashioned sightseeing tours. The cheap ticket is no longer the only criterion. Must be accompanied by substance. New trends in tourism also include the rise of mobile reservations, the rise of “last minute” travel. Mobile is now the first booking channel, young travelers choose what to do on the go. The trend was reinforced by the pandemic: many summers we made plans that did not materialize.

Keeping their antennas open, the new generation of tourism entrepreneurs quickly diagnosed the changes to come and prepared accordingly. The onslaught of COVID-19 “froze” their activities, but not their teams who worked hard for the next day: they automated processes, developed new products and services that would meet new needs. So today they are looking forward to the first COVID-free summer with increased turnover and a lot of optimism.

From Herds of Groups to Biome-1 Tourism
Alexandros Trimis of Welcome Pickups belongs to the new generation of professionals who have diagnosed the changes to come in tourism in good time and prepared accordingly.

Driver on the road

The idea came to Tina Kyriaki in 2016, although more than an idea, it was wishful thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice – he thought – if there was someone to organize our trips on the spot, to wake us up in the morning at our destination and choose the day’s program according to our mood? “Most of the time it’s noon and we’re still discussing where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. Either it’s 4 p.m. and we start looking for “a good place “to eat, while the children cry in the back seat,” he says, describing a scene that is more familiar than one cares to admit. No, it wasn’t a travel agency he was looking for. She wanted to remain independent and flexible. But at the same time someone did all the googling before her for her.

Thus was born Back to the Routes (pun evoking the return to basics, the essence of travel), an innovative roadtrip company, which allows the traveler to personalize their trip according to their personal preferences on the road. . With a travel app, you can create your own schedule by choosing from must-sees and optional stops, viewing food and activity recommendations by region, reading tips and stories, and more. “It’s like having a guide with an opinion constantly with you,” says Tina, who set up Back to the Routes with tour guide Danai Kousouri during the arid travel years of the pandemic. Back when everyone dreamed of getting behind the wheel and driving.

Group herds to experience tourism-2
Tina Kyriaki of Back to the Routes belongs to the new generation of professionals who diagnosed the changes to come in tourism in time and prepared accordingly.

The idea responds perfectly to modern trends around tourism. “Already in recent years there has been a shift in the world towards independent travel. At first they closed the transport itself, later the hotels, now the tours (inc. Tina Kyriaki is also the founder of ‘Alternative Athens’, which offers alternative tours in Athens). And they are gradually leaving mass tourism and the general public.” The COVID experience has exacerbated these (escape) tendencies. “We also saw it at Alternative Athens. Until before the coronavirus, people chose small group tours to escape the crowds. Now he chooses them for health reasons as well.” The pandemic, Ms. Kyriaki believes, has made us reconsider our values, to get back to what matters most. “That’s why we’re seeing waves of mass quits, the phenomenon of digital nomads, people quitting their jobs because they want to do something more meaningful. Quarantine has made us step back and say ‘life I had before was crazy.” Even my vacation.”

The “dramatic” years of the pandemic now seem distant for Alexandros Trimis, co-founder of Welcome Pickups. The Greek startup, founded in 2015, covering with ambassador guides all travel needs of travelers (transport, travel products, job suggestions, information) from the moment of their arrival in a new destination until their departure, this year will serve more than 1.6 million travelers in 120 destinations and 53 countries. “Our goal was to make the first and last hour in a destination as pleasant and friendly as possible,” he tells “K”. “It’s not something that we brought in and applied to a local environment. It’s something we haven’t seen elsewhere, the combination of a simple metaphor, a relatively boring element, with experience and personification.” However, the company’s meteoric growth came to an abrupt halt. “Where we were doubling in 2020, we suddenly dropped to 5% of bookings. That’s how 1.5 to 2 years went by.” However, the team did not remain inactive. “We used this time to automate and improve certain processes.” ’21 reached 70% of ’19 (the last normal tourist year), ’22 reached 50% above ’19 and this year is expected to climb to 60% above ’22. “In terms of turnover, we will have a tripling from ’19.”

As Mr. Trimis says, the coronavirus has dealt a severe blow to tourism, but at the same time it has strengthened the efforts of businesses like theirs. “People no longer wanted to get on a subway or a bus to get to their destination. There is a shift to smaller groups, in a safer and sanitized environment.” Apart from that, as he says, they are now looking for experience, meaningful contacts, in-depth knowledge of a new place. “The journey has now become an exploration.”

From group herds to biome-3 tourism
The Clio Muse Tours team, creating audio tours of top attractions and themed rides.

Digital tourist guide on the handset

The turnover of Clio Muse Tours, the Greek startup that creates and offers audio-guided tours of key attractions and themed walks, reached 760,000 euros in 2019. After the mess. “They told us that the post-Covid era could have a positive sign for us, but we couldn’t see it at this stage,” says Dafni Tsevreni, who together with Yiannis Nikolopoulos and Andreas Fatouros, founded the company in 2014. The three had met a few years earlier as students attending entrepreneurship seminars. Andreas’ idea of ​​creating a World Heritage Network seemed a bit crazy at first, but the other two clicked immediately. “We did market research with museums and travelers and gradually imagined a form of audio tour, the first version of Clio Muse Tours. We have developed the storytelling methodology that we follow and have even launched the service in some museums. Some tourist agencies saw it and suggested that we also take it on outdoor tours. This is how the current version of Clio Muse Tours was born, which is a tourist model offered to the customer who pays to listen to the audio-guided tour of attractions, museums, walks,” explains Ms. Tsevreni. From 2018 the audio tour is combined with an admission ticket in one package. They have thus filled a void in the market. “Many people didn’t want to join a large group or couldn’t find a guide available (i.e. tours are created by accredited tour guides and established professionals in the field of tourism and tourism Culture)”.

While waiting for the pandemic to pass, the Clio Muse Tours team managed to automate many parts of the service process and further develop the platform. “In 2020 we dropped, but in 2021 we reached 780,000 and in 2022 at 3.2 million euros. Yes, it went quite strong.” The company is present in 24 countries, with a reinforced presence in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Egypt and Turkey. “Last year, we reached 120,000 travelers who either downloaded an audio tour or purchased an audio tour package and ticket together. The product offers independence, convenience, meets the last-minute trend.” As she says, the traveler has also changed. “In 2019, only 15% of museum visitors could take an audio-guided tour. We are now at 30%. The idea of ​​the audio tour took on greater dimensions after COVID-19. We had a hard time, but every obstacle is finally for good.” The objective this year is for the turnover to reach 13.5 million euros.


58% of Gen Z (18-25) and Millennials (26-41) prioritize travel experiences over consumer goods.
63% was the demand of all travelers for guided tours in 2022, compared to 43% in 2019, while visits to historical attractions fell from 57% to 36%.
35% demand for outdoor activities has increased, up from 26% three years ago.
25% of travelers under 35 use TikTok to discover new activities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *