INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
A Travel Entrepreneur’s View on an Innovative Post-COVID World
We talked to Charlotte Franzellin of Trippers about travel revolution during the COVID times.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Charlotte Franzellin: Thankfully, we are all doing well. Thank you for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Trippers.
Charlotte Franzellin: I come from a very different background, an environmental engineering background, where I have worked in the renewable energy sector for four years prior to starting my entrepreneurial journey. I think that my time at Stanford, where I’ve done my Masters in Engineering, has unconsciously turned me on to entrepreneurship. Being surrounded by so much innovation and being taught never to be scared of trying because all failures are invaluable lessons.
As I returned to Europe after a few years in the US, I started noticing Europe’s value like a short getaway hub. I have spent a few years juggling a 9 to 5 and an ambition to discover all four corners of the globe with my friends, spending my free time planning the next trip. The more I planned, the more inefficiencies I found, and that’s how Trippers came to be. A group travel planning platform enables seamless and remote travel planning from end-to-end, a bundled service that helps from the early stages of deciding where to go to where to stop for coffee.
How does Trippers innovate?
Charlotte Franzellin: By being our customers, we innovate on what gets us excited. We are a team of efficiency-driven travel fanatics with analytical mindsets that like to take a challenge such as the fragmentation of the travel planning landscape and attempt to solve it.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Charlotte Franzellin: As a travel startup, we could not have been any more affected than by the pandemic that hit before our planned launch. However, this has been the perfect opportunity to slow down a little, refocus our attention on what really matters, and build an even better product for our customers, who can’t wait to get back out there exploring with their loved ones!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Charlotte Franzellin: We had to postpone our launch until an undefined date. This is particularly daunting to me, who loves planning every minute and who to work with. However, if these times have taught us anything, it is that we all need to be flexible and responsive to the market and be able to make decisions quickly. This is something we want to keep in our company going forward.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Charlotte Franzellin: The pandemic has taught us a lot about anxiety about things we can’t control, which is something I am not good at. My stress relief method has always been exercising, which was taken away from me when lockdown number 1 happened here, and the gyms and parks closed. It had me reconsider the fact that I’ve always preferred a tiny apartment in a lively city like London or Paris to a countryside house with a garden. However, I have done a lot of work internally to learn that it is okay not to be okay. It is okay not to feel grateful and happy every day of your life, but the important thing is to always turn up and do your best. After a first lockdown spent mostly sleeping and eating as a stress-relief mechanism, I approach the second one in a much more positive way, with pilates on the TV every morning and healthy foods in the fridge. As a company, we make sure to set aside time for checking in with one another, to try and help each other in these uncertain times.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Charlotte Franzellin: Most of what others consider to be our competitors are actually potential partners. As we started tackling an extremely difficult challenge, that of bundling the travel planning process, we knew that it would only be possible if we partnered with some experts in the field. The world of travel has become much better over the past decade at collaborating and sparking innovation by making their technology available to others. Thanks to that, we are able to offer an end-to-end planning platform to our users. The real competitors we see in the space are other startups who’ve been addressing a similar challenge, but we all seem to have a slightly different angle. While a lot of startups today want to add efficiency to the travel planning process, a lot want to take the decisions away from the customers entirely, planning their whole holiday and letting them know the destination right before their leave. We target a different set of customers, the travellers who like to plan their trips but want to spend less time doing so. A different type of competitors are those trying to innovate in specific areas of our bundled process, for example, the itinerary making part, but we think that the value of the bundling will keep us in the game for a while longer.
Your final thoughts?
Charlotte Franzellin: These past few weeks have seen a lot of optimism enter our lives, with the announcements of viable vaccines that could come to us early next year. This has given us hope for 2021, a year we hope will see us all in the air with a smile on our faces.
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