Kate Harden-England spoke to the hopeful CEO on his own path to WeRoad and why he’s confident in realising its goal
Big Interview: WeRoad's journey to Europe’s leading group adventure tour operator by 2025
European group tour operator WeRoad is on a path of success following launches in new European markets over the last year or so.
The Milan-based startup founded in 2017, brought on its now CEO, Andrea D’Amico, nearly two years ago to increase its scaleup pace.
D’Amico joined as an advisor originally, from Booking.com where he spent 18 years in various c-suite level roles, including VP and managing director of EMEA, before he took on the chief executive officer role two months later.
His lengthy experience with his previous company saw him join Booking.com when it was a scale up with just 100 people.
He saw it go on to grow to almost 20,000 people where you are “part of a machine that is working perfectly” but decided he needed a new challenge.
Given his track record and what he achieved for Booking.com, D’Amico was an “interesting match” for WeRoad’s international scaleup.
“A mutual connection of WeRoad and I told me about the company, the vision and what they wanted to do,” he said.
As an advisor to the company, he was able to learn more about the company, how it worked and get to know the team which ultimately led to him accepting the offer of CEO.
“The team was plastic and full of energy. I think what they do is incredible, they really bring people together and they help them explore the best parts of the world.
“There is nothing better than that, you can’t ask for more.”
He said it was a good match because they had lots of ideas but were missing experience in scaling up internationally, which is where he could bring his “experience and capabilities”.
WeRoad’s founder, Paolo De Nadai, who launched his first company at 19, also plays into the company’s recent success.
The pair bringing different strengths and experiences to the table and they work “very well” together.
“We know we need each other to make it a success so he’s still the one that comes with hundreds of ideas and he’s always raising the bar.”
The compelling combination of the two works well as De Nadai is the “visionaire” with a lot of energy and D’Amico is the more “balanced” one.
“We don’t compete because we understand that we are coming from different, parts different experiences, and they really complement each other in a perfect way.”
Both De Nadai and D’Amico realise that while group travel is not something the company invented its approach to its offering is what sets it apart and what will enable them to achieve Europe’s leading group travel operator by 2025.
“We are more conscious about the age segmentation, so we really want to make sure that when people travel they are with a similar age and that they get the possibility to travel in the language they are most comfortable with.”
“That’s why we have five languages whereas other places does everything in English, maybe that doesn’t help create that connection.”
“There is no one who has our Pan-European ambition,” he added.
The company hopes its execution in each of its five markets will see it rise to the top as it designed each country’s operations to feel native to that market.
Spain for instance has a Spanish website, coordinators, a Spanish sales and customer service team and a Spanish social media manager of Spanish socials, “because they understand the tone of the voice and what is happening in the company”.
WeRoad don’t want to be the cheapest, it wants travellers to have a “great experience” for value for money and this approach is driving results already with a 60% retention rate.
“When people go on a WeRoad for the first time, once they’re back the first thing they want to do is book another one.”
“Our main objective now is to make sure as many customers as possible try WeRoad once because we know that once they do they will love it and do another, and they will also speak to their friends and that it was a fantastic experience.”
The brand’s vision of experience-led not destination led means you go with people you don’t know and “have fun creating new connections” and the destination is second.
All of this is enabled through its team of coordinators, who are selected and trained by WeRoad to lead the trips and now, thanks to recent investment in tech infrastructure, can also curate the trips themselves as well.
WeRoadX sees coordinators now able to decide a destination themselves, design an itinerary and find the supply of transportation, accommodation and activity.
This move sees more itineraries for customers as to have this many itineraries provided by WeRoad’s central team was not scalable but now is thanks to this development.
The 40-strong team of developers have also worked to evolve the travel platform so that yes “every day is better for customers” but the internal processes are also more and more scalable.
Another platform development has enabled coordinators to be able to apply, retrain and assign themselves groups as before it was a manual and laborious process.
“We’re really working on developing the platform more and more to make the ecosystem as open as possible.”
Next tech developments are to something similar for suppliers as they did for the coordinators, so that DMCs have the ability to autonomously upload itineraries with inventory already loaded.
It also wants to provide platform for the community of travellers to stay connected after the trip for meet ups etc, which there is clear demand for but is currently not supported on the platform.
Though the point that WeRoad believes is the real key to it becoming Europe’s leading group travel provider in two years’ time, is the fact that every time it launches a new market, that market grows faster each time than the market before.
France and Germany’s volumes are going much faster than expected and are in line with later stages of other markets already.
The company says this “proves” the playbook works, giving it confidence in its plans for the rest of Europe, and to grow to the rest of the world in English in a “super scalable way”, which will be explored in the coming months.