Laura Perez Martin is the Country Manager of WeRoad, a Travel Tech startup that offers new ways to travel and life-changing experiences.
WeRoad puts together travellers, eager to discover the world, meet new cultures and make new friends.
WeRoad is surrounded by women and highlights the important female presence around WeRoad.
Is female presence the main element for WeRoad Success Story?
Impulse4Women: Laura, let's go staight to the point, are women the key ingredient for WeRoad startup success story?
More than 70% of WeRoad users are women, with a professional profile in medium-sized and large-sized companies,either national or international ones.
And WeRoad is not only surronded by women users, but we also have a 60% of women coordinators, leading tours around the world.
Although it’s been a while since women started being active participants of society, there are still a bunch of stops that may be self-imposed or socially imposed.
The main focus of this data is that us women are taking part in big things now, and we are not afraid to do the things that we’ve always wanted to do, even if those things are to be done by ourselves.
Diversity and inclusivity are important in every industry and in the travel industry even more, opening a door for new connections of women with similar thinking and to feel safe while discovering the world, bringing diverse perspectives, experiences and insights to the table.
I4W: Where did the idea for WeRoad come from?
WeRoad was founded from the vision of Paolo De Nadai, Fabio Bin and Erika De Santi, travellers by heart, with the dream of bringing as many people as they could to discover the world.
WeRoad is a community of travelers, born to connect people, cultures and stories. We create experiences, gather people to live incredible adventures around the globe by generating a whole schedule full of activities and with people with similar interests and ages.
I4W: And how WeRoad works?
Our WeRoaders can visit our website in order to book the experiences that fit better with their likes. Our groups are of 8 to 15 people, from ages between 25 to 35 and 35 to 49 years old, always sharing common interests and the same adventurous spirit of travel. Our trips are an authentic immersion into the local culture with local accommodations, traveling by train or bus, and a constant tryout of local cuisine.
Also, one of our main principles is flexibility, hence we don’t include the flights in our packs, so our WeRoaders can decide when they want to arrive and leave the destination. All the trips are guided by our coordinators, which are not the typical tour guide, our coordinators are also very passionate travelers wanting to actually live the destination with the WeRoaders. Which brings us to another principle of ours: customization. These coordinators are key pieces of the journey, as they create itineraries with a plus, adapting to the group’s interests, generating extra fun activities that are still not mandatory, if the WeRoader prefers to lay low and chill. In general, these group activities allow WeRoaders to take a deep dive into the culture of the places visited, living authentic experiences, with an itinerary beyond the tourist things.
I4W: How did the pandemic impact WeRoad business and what are the lessons you learnt from COVID-19?
Definitely 2020 took a toll on all industries, and for us even more, borders were closed and plans were canceled. Also, by then our operations in Spain had just started (November 2019), which left us in an incredible uncertainty. We moved fast and were able to provide vouchers to hundreds of WeRoaders that were as sad as us to be unable to travel.
We helped just as many traveling WeRoaders to return home before further borders closed.
And we’ve always been a company of connections, we try to actually empathize with our people and suddenly the physical connection was over. So what did we do? We traveled with our imagination. This was our new campaign slogan, which was all over social media. We filled our feed with activities to do at home, staying in touch and meeting new people via chat.
Then, right after the first confinement, in June 2020, the reservations for our trips increased drastically, people really wanted to be able to travel, go out and live the world. Because of that, we turned our long-distance trips offer into short-distance trips around the Mediterranean and Europe, especially in destinations such as Spain and Italy, reaching more than 8.000 WeRoaders that travel with us over that summer. Also, we tried to be very aware of new regulations and new countries that opened their borders, noticing when this happened how the bookings for those countries increased.
After that, bookings in countries like Iceland, Lapland and Jordan, which had been our best sellers, went back up, adding to Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece that were the stars of the last two summers.
I4W: What motivated your founders to launch a business in the online travel sector?
Born in 2017 in Italy, WeRoad was founded by Paolo de Nadai founder & President of OneDay Group, Erika De Santi Co-founder & International Expansion Director and Fabio Bin Co founder & Chief Digital & Marketing Officer.
WeRoad comes from the incredible idea to create an on-the-road travel solution for millennials so they can discover the world and different cultures, taking advantage of the main tool of the millennial generation: digitalization. Turning WeRoad into a 100% digital business.
When creating WeRoad the thought of who our target was, has always been the main focus. Our target is that young professional, willing to hop on amazing adventures whenever they feel like it, which does not always align with their friend’s schedule.
I4W: WeRoad is said to be one startup to go to unicorn status. How do you get there?
We started our road in 2017 when we launched the startup, in 2019 we arrived in Spain and in 2021 we launched in the UK. Finally, last year we started our operations in France and Germany and right now we have a community of more than 50k WeRoaders.
Right now, we have offices in Milano, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and London with a total revenue for 2022 of 30M €, of which more than 3 million euros corresponds only to the Spanish market. My objective in Spain is to strengthen WeRoad's position in the market, increase the market penetration and turn it into a leader in the adventure travel sector, which we are on our way to.
Our main plan now is to enter the DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) market, also going after Benelux and the Nordic countries, which we know for a fact have a great community of adventurous people willing to explore the world.
I4W: You are a country manager, do you see any gaps in the travel market that could be filled by new digital tech products in the future?
The travel industry is constantly evolving and there will always be opportunities for new digital solutions to fill gaps and meet emerging needs of travellers.
In our case we took advantage of the lack of closeness of travel agencies, the development of more personalized trip recommendations based on travellers' preferences, and more seamless and efficient booking and payment processes.
I4W: For the I4W community, what advice would you give to a female founder?
At WeRoad pushing ourselves to think bigger and bolder is part of our DNA, refusing to take a no for an answer and making things happen is what keeps us moving.
Having an idea, even if it’s a simple one, will always be brilliant if we push it to the limit, understanding the needs of our users, exploring alternative solutions, and testing everything to create more effective and innovative solutions.
We're no loners here, we trust that having a great team is key to having great success. Keep pushing, keep moving forward, if you believe in your idea, it will come true. This is what the actual WeRoader spirit is.
I4W: Thanks a lot, Laura, for this interview.