We talked to D. Goikoetxea of GOAZ, the only travel recommender in Europe based on Artificial Intelligence, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these times of COVID-19?
D. Goikoetxea: These are not being easy times for anyone. The pandemic, the restrictions, the fear for the health of those you love the most. And, above all, the hopelessness to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, my family and relatives are in good health.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded GOAZ.
D. Goikoetxea: My partner and I founded GuGo Creative more than 10 years ago, a business consulting company, web platforms, and custom mobile application design for business. Three years ago, while we were working on one of the projects, we began to think about the idea of trips, and that they have lost, in a certain way, those authentic, different trips of exploring the destination, of knowing the traditions and the genuine people of the places we visit. We no longer travel as before, with that ability to explore those recommendations of friends or family who had been in these places. Thus, little by little, GOAZ was born. With the pandemic and the inability to travel, we continue thinking about something new, different for the traveler. There, we saw that we always visit the same destinations, and we make plans based on the destination we have chosen. But, what if the destination was chosen based on our profile, tastes, and preferences as travelers? GOAZ IAT, the only travel recommender in Europe based on Artificial Intelligence, has just seen the light.
How does GOAZ innovate?
D. Goikoetxea: We are a technology company with extensive experience in the digital market. We have managed to change the paradigm of travelling thanks to a technological algorithm that allows us to analyze more than 40 parameters of each city in the world and cross them with the tastes and preferences of travelers. No one has ever rated cities before. The traveler had never been offered his level of affinity with a certain destination. Thanks to GOAZ IAT, this is now possible.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
D. Goikoetxea: They have been very hard times for the tourism sector. The closure of borders and the health emergency have made travel completely paralyzed. We could have thrown in the towel, like many companies in the sector, but we decided to take advantage of this break to continue growing, to offer travelers a product that would help them on their trips, that would give them a new vision. Although for a while we have not been able to travel, it does not mean that we will not do it again. And what we are sure of is that we will do it with great enthusiasm. For that reason, we wanted to be there with a good product for travelers, and that is what we have been working on during the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
D. Goikoetxea: I must admit that, despite not having gone through an easy situation, the team adapted perfectly to the new way of working. We left our headquarters and started working from home to ensure everyone’s health. Perhaps the most difficult decision at the business level was not to do without anyone from the team, because they are all important for the development of our work. Many companies have had to lay off their workers, but we did not want to do without anyone, especially in a complicated situation also within homes. You cannot forget the team that has rowed with you to the success of GOAZ. They have given 100% of themselves to make this work. And for me, it is very important that they feel that the company gives 100% for them. The lesson learned from all this is that GOAZ is made up of the best team you could imagine.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
D. Goikoetxea: We are a digital company, and, as such, we were prepared from minute 1 to face this situation in terms of resources. All our work can be done remotely at any time, thanks to different tools.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
D. Goikoetxea: Work and effort. I think those two words summarize the key to success. Success requires a lot of effort, many hours; you have to decide whether to stay in the game or not. It is not simply a matter of luck. With the support of the GOAZ team, we will continue rowing, looking for opportunities, trying to become a reference when it comes to organizing trips as the best destination recommender.
Your final thoughts?
D. Goikoetxea: Perhaps this situation has helped many of us to get out of our comfort zone. If you see it from another perspective, it has been an opportunity to renew ourselves, to seek excellence. A challenge is always an opportunity to show talent.
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