Discover how Greek start-up Destination Crete combines local firsthand knowledge with technology to give travelers the most authentic experience possible.
Destination Crete: so much to see and do
According to Manos Galanakis, his home island of Crete is so diverse, one could argue it isn’t really an island — but a whole continent.
“Crete is life! You can find all that you need around the island. Diversity is Crete’s competitive advantage. So many different landscapes appear in so short distances. Crete is capable of wooing different traveler’s target groups, from luxury, families to the explorers.”
Start-up unveils the diversity of Crete
He partnered with Athanasios Iliopoulos and George Petrakis, both also passionate about travel in Crete, to start up Destination Crete, an online travel guide that presents the diversity of the region for all types of travelers. Behind the scenes, the team applies destination management strategies, with the goal of becoming the island’s dominant online travel resource.
“In order to do that we have developed our content and business network in small different regions, so that each type of traveler can experience what suits him the most. Plus, this geographical segmentation gives us flexibility to precisely design tailor made packages.”
He said Destination Crete is the antithesis of mass tourism models and, as a result, clients feel closer to Crete during their visit.
“They end up developing similar feelings, like Cretans, and sometimes they fall in love with the island in a more intense way. They love that things go slow here, they become one with a culture and escape the chaos of everyday life they’re used to. They tell me they feel like they’ve come home.”
Inspiration for Destination Crete
Growing up in the beach resort town of Kokkini Chani in Hersonisos, Manos saw early on how giant tour operators worked. Such “quick” tourism made him think deeper about what Crete was truly offering its guests.
“Back then, most of the people visiting Crete didn’t have a way to visit the most beautiful and authentic part of the island.”
He returned to Crete after studying in the U.K., bringing back concepts he learned earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in international business. His goal was to upgrade tourism services both technologically and organizationally.
Manos revealed that one of his biggest challenges was creating the “Destination Crete Online Travel Guide.” It’s a culmination of years of traveling and collecting travel information, taking pictures, talking with locals and learning necessary website development skills.
“Our open data strategy required that we also had to list many tourism businesses in a professional way, understanding it would help bring us to the top of Google search. Although we never got paid for our listings at first. We set basic terms and conditions regarding which business would appear in our hotel, dining, shopping, and activity listings.”
He added that Destination Crete remains a 100 percent self-funded project. Developing sales and aiming for market growth remains a challenge during tough economic times in Greece. He also said that a major drawback for start-ups and small businesses in general in Greece is the high taxation policies coupled with the reality that Greece really is not attracting head funds anymore.
“For all start-ups is difficult to be competitive, without any external support either from banks or investment funds.”
After going “live” in 2014, following many ups and downs, Manos stated that demand for the company’s services continues to be the proof point that Destination Crete is on the right track. Currently, the company is introducing an innovative mobile application called the Destination Crete Hotels App.
More to come from Destination Crete
In the future, he believes that Destination Crete will evolve as both destination management organization and an online travel agency. Fueling his business goals is his love for Crete.
“It’s a year-round destination. Knowing I can descend from a snowy mountain top to a beautiful sea coast — in a short time — is still what fascinates me the most. Then, there are those incredible childhood memories of endless summer days that have shaped my personal connection with the island. Now, I want to share that with the world.”
More in this series on Greek Start-ups by Marissa Tejada:
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