How did the idea of TripLegend come about?
We came up with the idea while planning a private group trip to a Greek island for our friends. During the trip, we organised several different activities: cookery courses preparing traditional dishes with the village inhabitants, after first fetching the freshly caught fish from local fishers, wine tasting events in a small art gallery, boat trips to secluded bays and deserted islands, and producing our own olive oil. All this in a group of young people who for the most part, hadn’t known each other beforehand. Our fellow travellers’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive! We then decided to provide unforgettable, totally immersive group travel as an alternative to mass tourism.
Why exactly did you specialise in group travel?
As a society, we see a trend towards single households, loneliness, and the need to get to know new people in an informal environment. The pandemic, with its physical distancing and self-isolation, has reinforced this immensely. Economically speaking: if I’m travelling alone and, for instance, want to hire a boat, this is either very expensive, or I have to board a large, impersonal tourist boat with loads of strangers. By pooling resources in our small tour groups (with 10 people on average) we have an immense cost advantage and can, for example, book a small boat exclusively for the group without the costs getting out of hand and it losing its charm.
Market niche: we realised that Germany has no household names in this field, such as in the USA or UK. Currently, group travel providers move mostly in the 60 years + segment and do not understand how to create an attractive and innovative brand.
Group travel is the perfect solution for solo travellers who are reluctant to travel alone.
What is your USP?
We have created a travel brand which, in our opinion, covers all aspects a travel company needs to have in 2021 and post-Covid.
- Sustainable and suitable for people, animals, and the environment.
- Digital and tech-savvy in its presentation, communication, and processes.
- Putting “Experiencing”, “Exploring” and “Deep-Diving” before “Same Old”.
- Communication through epic videos, drone, and photo material instead of stock photos.
- Allowing our guests to meet like-minded young men and women offers them a trip that is way more than a regular holiday.
How does your product function?
From a business perspective: we work only with local partners, travel guides, NGOs, and SMEs to maximise the impact our “tourism euros” have on the travel destinations. We look for unusual destinations, away from the beaten track, design unforgettable trips, making them easily and digitally accessible under the brand TripLegend.
From a sustainable perspective: we design our trips to be as climate-friendly as possible (e.g., avoiding domestic flights). We offset 100% of the CO2 generated through reforestation projects in Brazil. For each guest, we plant trees to recultivate the endangered habitat of chimpanzees in Uganda. All our trips, indeed our entire company, have been certified as CO2-neutral since November 2020.
From a tech perspective: we can bring like-minded people together thanks to our algorithms based on personal profiles and interests, meaning there is a good chance for everybody to find new friends and even a future partner.
What are the biggest challenges on the way to starting a business?
I can only speak for myself here: after graduating from EBS, I worked for several years in consulting and in the corporate field. The greatest challenge for me was to risk that big step of quitting my job, giving up a secure salary, company car and all that, and starting all over again. And even if friends and colleagues did not understand why I was doing it, I can only say that this has been one of the best decisions in my life. I am happier and more fulfilled now than ever before.
The corona pandemic has had the most devastating impact on the tourist industry. How have you coped with this?
We believe that every crisis also creates an opportunity, which is why we took a risk by launching in June 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. We thought that many players would disappear from the market because for years their non-sustainable business models have been based solely on price war and making “profit through restrictive cancellations conditions”. We were lucky to have found investors who believed in us and our idea. So, we have used the Covid time to build business relationships with partners worldwide and develop with them unique and immersive travel opportunities (whilst their former partners have given them the cold shoulder). We have also worked on building our brand TripLegend and our community. Currently, we have over 5,000 newsletter subscribers and more than 12,500 Instagram followers, for example. Of course, we have had to be very careful with our costs and, for instance, we sadly had to decide to let some outstanding interns go, people, we would normally have offered a permanent position to at the end of their internship.
We now hope and reckon with the fact that travelling will begin again in Summer 2021!