Erika De Santi, Co-founder, and MD at WeRoad tells us how to discover the world by traveling in small groups.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Erika De Santi: I think that for everybody it was tough and still is as this whole situation has deeply affected the lives of people we have been living with.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded WeRoad.
Erika De Santi: I have always worked in travel with the aim of understanding its dynamics at 360 °: public tourism promotion, travel agent, hotel receptionist, marketing & business development in a company that operates in the field of experiential gift boxes to then land in WeRoad, tour operator and travel community that wants to rewrite the rules of the industry. I met Paolo De Nadai CEO and Fabio Bin CMO and CDO of WeRoad back in 2017 and from that day on we focused all our strengths on developing not only a company but most of all a community of passionate travelers.
How does WeRoad innovate?
Erika De Santi: Innovation is part of our DNA: it is written in our mission that we want to rewrite the rules of the travel industry. We do this by developing a Direct to Consumer brand that aims at providing WeRoaders with:
– a life-changing travel experience designed and delivered by our amazing tour operator product team;
– a vibrant community of passionate travelers and same age and like-minded people to connect with.
Moreover, we do not have intermediaries and sell directly our experiences to WeRoaders, thus maintaining a great connection with them, enabling us to immediately fulfill all their needs and gather every kind of feedback.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Erika De Santi: The impact COVID had on the travel industry was dramatic. We did our best to be relevant in our WeRoaders’ lives even though we couldn’t have them traveling around the world with us and we did it in two ways:
- by keeping on engaging them on our social media assets creating inspiring content and online engagement activities (in 2020 we’ve been nominated as top-performing global travel brand on Instagram);
- by being constantly updated on travel restrictions and creating and enabling safe tours when possible. Our volumes of departures in Italy and Spain in summer 2020 witness it and are an example of our capacity reaction.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Erika De Santi: Yes, we went through troubled waters like most operators in our industry. I’ve learned that being transparent and candid with your people always pays off as we’re all in this together and constantly keeping in touch and empathizing with them was key to retaining talents and spirits “up” through thick and thin.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and WeRoad in the future?
Erika De Santi: Working in tourism trains you to constantly cope with pressure and stress. Having travelers all over the world at the same time enables you to be extremely flexible and reactive to situations where anxiety could block you from solving problems such as taking care of your travelers in case of earthquakes and floods. Therefore, I won’t imagine a future without uncertainty but always being trained and developing proactive thinking would be crucial.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Erika De Santi: In Italy, at the very beginning of WeRoad days we had only one major competitor in the community-based group travel tours. Right now, three years after, what we experienced is the birth of a myriad of small competitors. As mentioned before our mission is also that of rewriting the rules of the industry and this “wave” we’ve been able to generate in the market could be seen as a positive sign of innovation. Given this, in order to remain relevant, our objective is that of always remain at the forefront of the industry in terms of positioning, product, and community.
The following articles were written by our CMO and CDO Fabio Bin about the history of our company:
● WeRoad phase 1 bootstrap (year 0 + year 1)
● WeRoad phase 2 start-up (year 2)
● WeRoad phase 3 scale-up (year 3)
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