Interview of Thibault Monnoyeur, VP International at Evaneos. The new concept of 100% tailor-made holidays.

Hello Thibault, can you introduce yourself?

My name is Thibault, I’m 38. I studied business at Paris Dauphine University and got an MBA at Insead.

During my career I had several executive roles. Among others I was a General Manager of Groupon for a few European countries.

I also had my own company for a couple of years.

Nowadays I’m in charge of International Development at Evaneos. This means developing our existing markets as well as launching into new ones.

I’m also pretty fond of travelling, with 48 destinations checked around the world. Soon to be 49…

How many markets is Evaneos operating in?

Since our launch in 2009, we’ve launched 5 markets.

We opened Spain in 2011, then Italy in 2013. It was pretty natural to start with these latin countries as they’re a lot like us.

The idea was to validate our model and the travelers’ interest for it in those 2 markets. It turned out well! Take a trip to Thailand for example, out of 100 requests, our booking rate was really close to the one we had with French customers.

The next logical step was Germany, that we launched in 2013. This is the biggest European market.

We discovered the United Kingdom last year. By the way it was the first launch I was directly involved with. Along with someone who previously recruited our local travel agencies there.

In 2016 we aim at opening the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.

Once we’ve launched in these 3 new European markets, we’ll be speaking 8 languages. The goal will then be to tackle giant markets like USA, Canada, China & Brazil.

How do you prioritize new market launches at Evaneos?

We decided to focus on Europe to begin with.

In order to choose between the different markets of the Old continent, we look at several criteria: The tourism market size, the interest in tailor-made travels, the number of independent travelers, the number of internet users, their habits in online spending, the share of Culture in the leisure market, the level of difficulty to find local travel agencies that speak the language.

Direct competition isn’t really that important. First because it’s rather a  good sign, it means the market is evangelized and also because we were the first to develop a platform to connect you to local agencies.

Once you’ve chosen the market, what does your timeline look like?

We have three main steps to validate in order to develop Evaneos in a new country:

1- The number 1 thing to have is a team dedicated to this country. To do this we only recruit native talents. Today we have 15 different nationalities at Evaneos.

2- This team then has the mission to recruit and test the local travel agents we’re going to work with.

3- The last point is Online Marketing and localization. We translate a part of our content internally (SEO mainly) and we have translation partners for our community guides for instance.

What are the resources that you allocate to your international development?

As this is the core of our strategy, we invest a lot in our international development. To give you an example, our last fundraising round of Eu 18 Million will, for a big part, be dedicated to our foreign markets (new ones as well as existing ones).

If we speak of people, almost half of our team is directly or indirectly linked to our international development. We’re not a French company anymore! That being said, the only offices we have abroad is in Barcelona. We only set up shop when the market is big enough, se we can get closer to our travelers.

What were the main challenges you had to tackle?

The main difficulty is the discrepancies in Online Marketing budgets across all the different markets.

Depending on the countries, the cost of a lead varies a lot. In an hypercompetitive market like the UK, our lead is way more expansive for example. This leads us to tweak our strategy in order to get a better ROI.

The second challenge is to recruit international talents in Paris. We strongly believe in the synergies we can create and having a French hub is essential to our culture and team building. We’re looking for native speakers with specific skills, like online marketing. This isn’t easy to come by.

On the contrary, what’s really easy?

Evaneos has been around for 7 years now. We’ve learned a lot. Part of my mission is to gather and document this expertise to create a sort of best-practices guide, a playbook for Evaneos International Development.

Meanwhile, we can rely on the stable and efficient platform we provide to our local agencies. It’s a pretty quick adaptation gig for every launch. So we can recruit agencies faster because we offer them more value, productivity tools to create tailor-made trips…

Before we leave you, do you have a fun fact you could share with us about your international development?

As I said earlier we have 15 nationalities at Evaneos. We’re an international company and sometimes you have to admit that clichés don’t come out of nowhere, if you see what I mean. We organized a game night with the team a while ago , and you won’t be surprised to know that the Germans organized everything while the Spanish spoke really loud, the Italians cheated a bit and the British just made fun of everyone.

Evaneos is a marketplace for 100% tailored travel experiences that cut out the middle-person by connecting travellers directly with a community of local travel agents.

Through the site you can browse a range of holiday ideas, then contact a local agent living in the destination country to design a tailor-made itinerary. Evaneos counts 650 partner agencies who operate locally in 150 countries.

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