You know where you want to go on holiday, but you don’t know what to do when you get there? That is a familiar feeling for most of us seeking to get the most out of our limited time away.
Buying a rough guide may help, but surely a smooth guide on the ground who has known the area all their life is what you really need. There is nothing worse than visiting a place and finding out when you come back that the best restaurant, with the fresh fish overlooking the sea was only a mile up the road.
Well an online travel platform, Evaneos-Travel.com, offers that service and was launched in the UK at the end of last year.
In a nutshell you can personalise your holidays from start to finish: destinations, accommodation, activities, meals, guides… They’ve connected with English speaking agents in each location so they really do have people on the ground. The local travel agencies do not have brochures so their only limits are the ones you set them.
Currently the agency connects with 650 local agencies in 150 destinations. The idea is that travellers can benefit from their local knowledge – they are experts of the destinations and will give you first-hand advice and help you travel off the beaten path. On site, they will organise everything: welcoming you upon arrival, transferring you to your accommodation, booking your hotels, selecting a suitable guide, organising the various modes of transport or planning your activities.
What seems to make this work is that Evaneos guarantee secured payment, a free repatriation insurance and provide a guarantee against a default of the agencies. Having been the victim of the ‘official’ unofficial ‘booking office’ in far flung destinations (I lost my passport to a racket and was held to ransom over extortionate ferry tickets), it’s reassuring to know that each local agency has been rubber stamped.
The company has seen huge growth in the previous six months with UK traffic to the site increasing by 195% users and a huge 228% sessions. The site has also seen month on month revenue growth of 100%
To date, 120,000 travellers from 30 different countries have travelled with Evaneos and sales generated from these trips have doubled every year since the company was established. Such is the success of this forward-thinking travel concept, Evaneos have just raised a further $21m in their third round of funding.
This youthful start-up was founded back in 2009 in France and was the first ever platform to connect travellers directly to “local experts” who compile tailor-made travel itineraries that will be a gateway to the best holiday experience imaginable.
Founders Eric La Bonnardière and Yvan Wibaux came up with the concept in 2009 to go against the tide of the standardised package holidays dominating the tourism industry. They will launch in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden this year with plans to break into the American market in the next few years.
So is this the death of traditional package holiday travel agents (who have never been to the destination they are selling you)? Of course there will always be a market for those who like to go back to that wonderful apartment in Benedorm year after year. However, as travellers become more adventurous and travel savvy, we could see a huge growth in holiday makers connecting with recommended local agents in far flung countries.
The business also appears to be an exciting entrepreneurial adventure for Eric, Yvan and their growing team. They have plans to increase the size of their workforce from 80 to 200 employees.
So for the ethical and adventurous traveller who wants to have a personalised holiday, they are worth trying out. Expand your horizons with the help of someone who actually knows where the best place is to watch the sunset, where the fresh fish comes in, and which hotels can provide an extra pillow.