Backpacking your weekend away to a serene hilltop or canoeing amidst fresh waters, or simply driving down to a lush estate can unquestionably do wonders to your mood! Perhaps, not every time one gets a chance to plan their holiday the way they want and instead will have to travel as per the itinerary given by the tourist agent/ guide. Leaving behind these conventional ways of holiday planning, Evaneos, one of the renowned European holiday marketplaces was launched to make every traveler’s dream of going on a customized holiday in a fascinating way.
How does Evaneos turn a Mainstream Holiday into a Special one?
Evaneos, a term derived from two words meaning ‘New Escape’. “Evaneo” in English and French means Escape and “Neos” in Greek means ‘New’. Therefore, going by its name, Evaneos aims to offer its travelers new ways to prepare and experience their trip. Headquartered in Paris, Evaneos is a present-day travel platform that lets travelers to not only go on their dream destination as per their customized plan, but also allows them to organize, experience and share their experiences on the platform for others to view. Furthermore, the platform also connects the travelers with curated local travel agencies from all over the world, which makes the process of holidaying even easier. This exclusive feature of connecting the travelers with the local agencies pays a significant role as the travelers can effortlessly customize their holidays completely.
Apart from letting the travelers plan their holidays and connecting them with the local agencies, Evaneos acts as a bridge between the two parties and thereby offers innovative tools for designing and payment of the trips in a direct and more secure manner, via the local agencies. This entire process eliminates the presence of middlemen or disbursing of a huge amount.
According to the CEO and Co-founder, Eric La, “Evaneos is reinventing and disrupting the tour operating business model by eliminating the presence of the middlemen in planning a holiday. We are bringing the local expertise to the travelers, so that they can customize their tours with the provided tools and do different things which they cannot do when they go through the classic agents or tour operators. We are connecting the experts with the customers”.
Therefore, Evaneos envisions to revolutionize the way UK travelers book their discovery and adventure holidays.
- Evaneos has a close-knit community of 500 local agents across 150 destinations, and has toiled to form a community of local agents world-wide.
- Until date, the platform has gathered about 500 English-speaking men and women, along with specialists who excel in creating discovery and adventure holidays in their respective countries.
- Has built contacts of enthusiastic travelers who have introduced a friendly human dimension in the unorganized space of travelling and online holiday bookings.
- The product team at Evaneos works closely with the agents and offers them tools that help them in easy direct communication with the travelers.
- The site has over 500 on-site agents who have been carefully chosen based on their professionalism and their expert knowledge of their country.
- The Evaneos-Travel.com platform lets travelers to globe trot with total security without conforming them to the generic, set tour itineraries that are proposed by traditional travel agencies.
The Inspiration behind the Launch of Evaneos
Evaneos was co-founded by two traveling enthusiasts, Eric La Bonnardiere and Yvan Wibaux, who met by chance, and shared the same zeal to travel and explore the world. Both being avid travelers who had already explored over 60 countries worldwide, they realized that there were various hurdles to be faced while planning for a trip. Also, as a traveler, one did not have the freedom to plan his tour and had limited access to other travelers’ experiences.
Commenting on this issue, Eric stated that, “When we want to book a holiday through a brick and mortar agency, the problems are large and it costs a lot of money due to the increased presence of the intermediaries. So, what we found out was, we discovered various tour operators and their operations throughout various places. These tour operators are known as Destination Management Companies or DMC,” he said.
“The first time we spoke to a DMC, we were really impressed as he was passionate about his profession and showed an interest of being in a direct relationship with the travelers. We are launching a lot of things, and we aim to give the travelers an open experience with freedom and experience, while traveling to different parts of the world”.
Earlier, the DMC had to work with the B2B sector, but thanks to the launch of Evaneos, they can now work with the B2C sector, thereby directly interacting with the travelers.
The Launch of Evaneos
Evaneos was founded in the year 2009 by two co-founders with a purpose to connect the travelers directly with the local experts from across the world. Initially, they started off with catering to the French market alone, but expanded to other regions over time. So far, the company has more than 500 curated on-site travel agents with over 150 destinations all over. Owing to its great finesse in the traveling industry, Evaneos has become one of the top online travel companies in Europe. Although the company started off with just 2 people, today it comprises more than 90 people in their international team. So far, Evaneos has launched itself in five markets; Germany, UK, Italy, Spain and France.
Evaneos has had great success over the years due to its 100% customizable trips. Today, the company has enabled more than 90,000 travelers all across the world, and has achieved a traveler satisfaction rate of about 97%. Unlike before, the travel agencies today can get increased number of leads directly with the help of the portal. It so happens that travelers who are looking to travel to far flung destinations should typically approach the travel trade in the UK, but fortunately, due to the launch of Evaneos, they can now smoothly buy a customized holiday plan through Evaneos travel agents. Evaneos has not only made it easier for the travel agents, but also for the travelers by offering them tours to farther destinations in a more organised and cheaper manner. Therefore, a traveler buying holiday packages through the Evaneos Travel is provided with guaranteed secure payment along with holiday replacement and complimentary repatriation insurance.
- 2009: 500 travelers set off on trips via Evaneos.com
- 2010: This number grew to 2,600
- 2011: The number increased to 5,400, and the launch of www.evaneos.es (accessible to the Spanish market)
- 2012: 11,000 travelers, and both www.evaneos.de (accessible to the German market), and www.evaneos.it (accessible to the Italian market) launched by the end of the year.
- 2014: Evaneos.com celebrated its five year birthday, gaining the prestigious Travel d’Or award for the best online travel agency.
- 2015: Finally, the English site www.evaneos-travel.com is launched to the UK market.
The Founders of Evaneos
Eric La Bonnardiere, CEO and Co-founder
Eric graduated from Supelec (prestigious university specializing in Engineering), then from HEC Paris (prestigious university specializing in Business and Trade) followed by a year at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm). After two years of working as a strategy consultant, Eric, a seasoned globetrotter, decided to find a way to bring together this passion and his entrepreneurial skills. He left his job as a consultant and with his newly found associate, Yvan Wibaux, they spent nine months coming up with a concept and breathing life into it. Finally in June 2009, they molded their dream of Evaneos into reality.
Yvan WIBAUX, General Manager and Co-founder
Yvan completed his Master Engineering in October 2008. Having just graduated as an engineer, Yvan joined Eric La Bonnardiere in coming up with a business proposition that would later become Evaneos. He already had a year of travelling the world with four friends working in water control and management under his belt from October 2005 to August 2006, and had written a guide on responsible tourism. These experiences formed a solid base for a business partnership with Eric, and shortly after, Yvan took up the position of General Manager (specializing in technology) of Evaneos alongside Eric La Bonnardiere.
The Business Model of Evaneos
The business model of the company in short consists of the marketplace business model, wherein the company offers the local agents with traveler leads and in turn generates money for the number of trips sold.
- The business model of the platform consists of specialized and innovative tools that are provided to the users in order to make the entire holiday process effortless.
- The platform offers a more direct approach to the travelers and the agents, wherein the travelers can directly deal with friendly hand-picked, English speaking local agents to design their perfect trip
- The platform offers tours at a fairer price, with trips offered at around 20% cheaper rates, despite being 100% tailor-made.
- The platform offers alternative to standardized holiday packages to its travelers via the impersonal method of booking trips with ease. The travelers are guided and assisted by local experts based on their needs and desires.
- The registered local travel agencies are chosen after a rigorous selection process to guarantee security and professionalism for the traveler. Also, when a traveler is seeking to know more about a destination, he can gather inspiration from the tour examples on the Evaneos-Travel website. He can then work alongside their local travel agent to modify, add, or remove aspects of their tour. No two travelers in the Evaneos Travel community set off on the same trip itinerary.
- Evaneos eliminates the interference of the middlemen, which results in 20% cheaper travelling packages.
- The platform guarantees to offer the traveler a remarkable holiday experience, and fairer tourism for local economies.
The Funding of Evaneos
Evaneos started off with an investment amount of €10,000 invested by Eric and Yvan, from their personal savings. However, the company acquired a loan of €100,000 from Paris Innovation, followed by a funding of €20,000 from Scientipole Initiative, and €100,000 from ‘love money’. In the year 2011, Evaneos.com raised €715,000 in investment from Entrepreneurs Funds ‘ISAI’ to finance its development, and in 2014, Evaneos.com raised another 4.4 million euros from its previous investor, ISAI, as well as from XAnge Private Equity.
Commenting on the funds received, Eric stated that, “When we created Evaneos in 2009, we wanted to invent a new model that puts the human dimension at the core of travel. The rise of experiential travel means that travelers’ expectations are geared towards independence, personalized service, and a greater connection with authentic local culture. Evaneos offers a solution to these expectations by putting travelers directly in contact with local travel agents across the world. This latest funding round is a major step forward in our development, allowing us to become a global brand while continuing to reinvent the way that travelers dream up, prepare, and experience their trips.”
Similarly, Yvan commented that, “Our seven years of experience, and the data we have gathered over this period, allow us to develop tools that are increasingly efficient and innovative. With this funding round, we will be able to invest more rapidly in quality and user experience, the ease of communication between travelers and local agents, and the development of new technological features to benefit our travelers, such as launching the website as a mobile application. We will also continue to develop our SAAS platform, which brings together the biggest community of local agents in the world. Our objective has always been to build the world’s leading multi-day tour marketplace, and I think there’s a real opportunity here for us to become the digital category leader.”
Some of the investors who commented on the operations of Evaneos are;
Nicolas Iordanov, Principal – Venture Capital, Bpifrance said: “We were impressed by Evaneos’ model, which is disrupting the travel industry by combining simplicity of use, access to local expertise, and better value for money. We are happy to be participating in the company’s international growth, and supporting the innovation of this fantastic start-up.”
Marc Fournier, Managing Partner, Serena Capital, said: “Evaneos has demonstrated its potential on an international scale by successfully launching its platform across multiple markets. Its international perspectives are very promising, and we are confident in the business’ ability to become a global brand.”
Evaneos and its Competitors
Being the pioneers of inventing this concept, Evaneos has a lot of competitors all over Europe and other parts of the world. However, the competitors are beginners and have a smaller market when compared to Evaneos, which makes them the leaders in the travel industry. What makes Evaneos different from its competitors is that they have a sturdier inventory and have more than 600 local agents, followed by a larger network of DMCs. On the technology part, Evaneos has invented an array of tools to offer best travelling services. The software service created by Evaneos makes it easier for the DMCs to manage all the leads that Evaneos creates generates for them. Other useful tools by the platform include; customer relationship management tool, payment tool and the trip building tool among others. However, just like every other company, the founders at Evaneos faced certain challenges such as; international expansion, challenge to understand the local need and how to market the offer and challenge to hire genuine local people.
Talking about other platforms of the company, Evaneos has launched a mobile app with almost the same features like that of the website. Although the company does not generate any money from the app, the app is useful to the users in terms of providing content about traveling and experiences. The app is just like a travel guide wherein people can upload their travel experiences.