There’s little doubt that the world today is a smaller place than it used to be. Travelling, particularly in Europe, is becoming easier and easier. But one thing most travellers can agree on is the added value of having a local show you around. It immediately does away with logistical complications, saves time and makes the experience so much more fulfilling.
Welcome Pickups is an Athens-based company that uses local knowledge and a customer-centred service to deliver an authentic experience, right from the go. “We are trying to become a gateway, a one-stop shop for travellers as soon as they land,” explains Alex Trimis, co-founder and CEO, “we like to think of ourselves as the glue between local providers and the traveller.” The idea behind the company came from Alex’s time in San Francisco, where many visiting friends really appreciated having someone local show them around.
Welcome Pickup’s services are unlocked with the airport transfer. Drivers know the traveller’s details in advance and greet them personally at the gate. All drivers speak English as well as the local language, ready to offer insider knowledge, local tips and advice on both the beaten track and lesser-known corners. During transport, travellers are given a Welcome Pickups bag, a map, water and guidance at a prepaid flat rate. Travellers can also pre-purchase other products or services they may need such as SIM cards or tickets to events.
When the company started trading under the name of Dopios, things were not going their way. Shifting the focus of the business to airport transfers however, and changing the name, gave the company new life. To fund the business from an early stage, Welcome Pickups turned to Openfund, a Greek venture-capital fund backed by EIF. “They helped us through that initial difficult period, up to the point where our business model finally started working”, Alex explains, “Without them, the project would probably never have materialized and I’d still be in San Francisco. They were there for everything we needed.”
From Greece, Welcome Pickups has grown and by the end of 2017 was active in 12 destinations across Europe. With 200,000 travellers annually, the business has grown 300% year-on-year and plans to continue expanding the team, as it opens new locations every month – even in Hong Kong soon – and developing the services on offer: “For example, we’re thinking of offering restaurant recommendations and an overall more personalised services” explains Alex.
Company: Welcome Pickups (Greece)
Type of business: Tourism
EIF financing: JEREMIE
Financial intermediary: Openfund II