Viamonda.ch wants to transform the planning and booking of individual long-distance trips into child’s play. Travelnews.ch talked to founder and former Thomas Cook boss, Michael Tenzer, about the importance of the technology-supplying Swiss start-up Nezasa, the integration of travel agencies and the fact that he initially wanted to launch only a showcase.
By Gregor Waser
Last Friday, the website www.viamonda.ch was launched in Switzerland. The new travel portal wants to facilitate the planning and booking of round trips and travel combinations in an easy and intuitive way, directly on PC, tablet or smartphone. Responsible for Viamonda.ch are Michael Tenzer and Hans Emde, two experienced tourism experts. travelnews.ch spoke to Michael Tenzer, the long-time Thomas Cook Germany and Switzerland boss.
After leaving Thomas Cook, Michael Tenzer was to join the board of directors of Nezasa. Nezasa provides solutions for tour operators who offer flexible travel components. Being asked how the software company could best grow, Tenzer suggested that the system should become more publicly visible: “We first built a showcase to illustrate this and out of it arose my enthusiasm to found a company myself that would map exactly what Nezasa can do. This kind of individual package tour – or packaged individual tour – did not exist two and a half years ago and, in this form, does not exist anywhere else today. After two and a half years, we are now launching the Swiss subsidiary due to the attractive Swiss market.”
180 round trips in 23 countries
On viamonda.ch, customers can design on their own a variety of long-haul trips online in a matter of minutes, using the novel travel planner. They can enter their individual desires regarding region, travel topic or time, prompting suitable travel suggestions. Those suggestion can then be adapted specifically according to their individual needs.
After having planned the itinerary including its activities, the flight can be booked to topical prices. Thus, viamonda.ch wants to offer individual trips while simultaneously ensuring the security of a package tour. The online tour operator provides telephone, live chat and mail support by their team of experts. All trips – whether private or group ones – are guided round trips, including overnight accommodation in selected hotels of different categories. While travelling, customers can reach viamonda.ch directly via hotline, WhatsApp or web chat.
“With our innovative platform, we offer individual travellers the opportunity to create their trip exactly according to their wishes. They quickly receive first suggestions and recommendations on the topic or country they are looking for. These can be altered and expanded with just a few clicks, and booked without lengthy enquiries,” says Michael Tenzer, detailing the strength of the online platform. “The crux lies in combining the high complexity of a fastidious trip with a booking-friendly personal decision. You want to have holidays right from the beginning, i.e. initial booking. Already the planning should infuse joy.” Today Viamonda offers 180 round trips in 23 countries and approximately 4000 travel combinations.
First the round trip, then the beach holidays
15 months ago, Viamonda went live in Germany. Now, on 1 March 2019, it is in Switzerland, too. “What I like about Switzerland is how Internet-savvy the population is, coupled with its enthusiasm for individual and long-haul travel and the on average higher travel expenses,” says Tenzer. It was therefore only a matter of time before Viamonda arrived in Switzerland. Based in Cologne, the city will remain Viamonda’s headquarter for the time being. If the company develops well into the Swiss market, a call centre may be set up in Switzerland, too.
Asked about destinations, Michael Tenzer names Southern Africa and Asia as the most suitable destinations for applying the Viamonda principle of individual long-distance travel: “The possibility to combine short or long round trips with a beach or city stay is particularly attractive in South Africa and Southeast Asia.” As a classic example serves a Northern Thailand trip that is preceded by three days in Bangkok and followed by a beach stay in Phuket. Or for instance a South Africa-Mauritius combination.
Using a classic tour operator, these kind of trips would come in complete packages or require to book each component individually via portals such as Booking and Expedia. In contrast, Viamonda first serves a recommendation for the main trip, which can then be individually and flexibly adapted. This curative approach has not yet existed.
Whitelabel solution for travel agencies
Is the online tour operator the new enemy of travel agencies? Not at all. In Germany and Austria, Viamonda has successfully established around 25 white-label solutions, with partners such as Reiseland.de, kuoni.at or, regionally, Lufthansa City Center. Equally, cooperating with Viamonda can also be interesting for Swiss travel agencies.
“We are looking forward to seeing which travel agencies or organisations want to work with us, in order to inspire their customers with an innovative online offering that additionally simplifies their own work,” says Michael Tenzer. When enquired about the framework, he explains: “There is a commission-based model for travel agencies, just as it is with analogue tour operators. The difference with us is that the travel agencies will use a white-label solution that carries their brand, i.e. their logo and own name.
Besides, Viamonda.ch relies on online marketing, e.g. focusing on keywords of search engines and display advertising, and thus, trying to generate customer details in order to contact them again with email marketing. The latter always and exclusively takes place in cooperation with travel agencies, emphasises Tenzer.
Regarding his expectations of entering the Swiss market, Michael Tenzer does not want to be too demanding, but acknowledges: “Our business is scalable, so we don’t have to start with business plans for Switzerland. The rollout so far has been manageable in terms of costs. Lets see how business in Switzerland takes off.”
This article was written by Gregor Waser and published on www.travelnews.ch on 04 March 2019. You can read the article in German here.