First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marco Fabris: We’re well, thank you.
We live in Milan, at the center of Covid-19 in Italy, but we stay at home. We have safe contacts with a few people, and we are smart, working from home in a safe environment.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded TripForDog.
Marco Fabris: TripForDog was born on a trip that I did with my dog Mela from Milan to Andalusia, where my family usually lived. After all the problems encountered on the way, I decided to make a blog for relatives and friends who followed us on tour, and thanks to the great feedback from the audience, I founded a brand and now is the first and only, Dog-Friendly OLTA in the world.
How does TripForDog innovate?
Marco Fabris: We are the first marketplace that combines the tourism market with the pet market. Practically, dog trainers and guides can upload their own “WoofTour” on the platform, and our customers can reserve and participate with their own dogs.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Marco Fabris: The first lockdown of 2020 allowed us to organize ourselves better: build new technology, improve communication, and new partnerships. This second lockdown in Italy does not allow us to be able to sell the museum tickets, skip the line that we sell with the dog sitting service included to allow our customers on trips to visit museums and attractions while a dog sitter takes care of the dog during the visit like Uffizi, Vatican Museum, Colosseum… because all are closed now. We’re working on audience growth.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Marco Fabris: As CEO, I make difficult decisions every day, that’s not the problem, especially for a startup.
The lesson I learned is that you never know what will happen in life, you can make all the plans you want, but you need to be resilient. We took advantage and wasted no time to organize ourselves better, and we are ready with 200 new tours that will come out as soon as it is allowed to sell them.
We work purely outdoors, and the distances between the dogs, and their owners, have always been maintained before COVID, too: as soon as it will be possible to sell our WoofTour, we will have the sold-out for each event (as usual!).
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Marco Fabris: I’ve started playing a transverse flute. This can sound strange, but if you don’t have a relaxed mouth, face, shoulders, hands, and arms, it doesn’t play, really. I’m taking online lessons with an American teacher, so I take flute lessons and improve my English language understanding: it’s a great and useful therapy for stress.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marco Fabris: At the moment, we are the first and only dog-friendly OLTA with a certified license approved by the Chamber of Commerce (not easy to obtain) while our competitors work in affiliations: we have a competitive advantage many times higher, they can’t do what we can.
Your final thoughts?
Marco Fabris: We have to wait until everything passes. Everything has already happened, and the solutions in this era come faster than in the past. We need to be patient and be ready to re-start.