Travel companies often tackle the odyssey from home to destination and back, but Welcome Pickups is taking a different approach. The Greece-based company focuses squarely on transportation and other services once a consumer has arrived, such as airport transfers or airport pickups. The company aims to become “a single touchpoint for all your in-destination travel needs,” Welcome Pickups CEO and Co-Founder Alexandros (Alex) Trimis told PYMNTS in an interview.
Trimis, whose co-founder is Savvas Georgiou, added that the company is geared toward creating “the most memorable travel experiences” that start “from the moment you arrive at the destination.”
If a consumer wants to travel from New York to Barcelona for a week-long getaway, for instance, she can make her reservation with the company either by booking directly with Welcome Pickups or through a prompt from a hotel or another type of partner (the company also works with properties like home shares). Once the consumer completes the company’s form, she enters the details of the required transfer or pickup. After making a payment, she fills out a trip profile with information such as why she is traveling and what she wants to do when she arrives at her destination.
The traveler is then directed to a page where she can see other things to do and products that a driver can bring to her when she arrives, ranging from museum tickets to SIM cards. “We keep expanding the list,” Trimis said. “We’re looking into basically making your life very easy.” For payments, the company accepts credit cards and PayPal.
Trimis noted the company is also looking at other payment methods. The PYMNTS Travel Payments Study found 15 percent of travel companies have attempted new payments innovations in the past three years. At the same time, more than eight in 10 – or 81 percent – of travel companies plan to initiate at least some new innovation projects in the next three years.
Trimis explained that the driver, who essentially serves as an ambassador, will be fluent in English and will be able to share knowledge about the destination. He or she will greet the traveler and provide her with a tote bag of welcome items, such as a bottle of water. The traveler will have a photo of the driver and his contact details. The driver will be able to answer any questions and deliver any products the traveler might have ordered ahead of time.
Welcome Pickups is already active in 34 destinations, including big metropolitan cities. Trimis said the goal is to be in 60 or more areas by the end of the year. The company covers most European destinations, including Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Rome and Athens. Once Welcome Pickups enters a country, it also dives deeper into other cities (i.e., the company covers Sevilla in Spain). When choosing destinations, the company looks for places that have many travelers, with a focus on leisure travelers. However, it is also looking at the business segment.
Overall, Welcome Pickups prefers destinations that are more difficult to navigate. It is looking to expand the network “and basically be everywhere,” Trimis said.
The company raised about $3.7 million in a March funding round for a total raise of $6.8 million, per Crunchbase, and Trimis noted the company plans to use the funding for geographical expansion and more partnerships. It also seeks to provide a better overall customer experience. The offering comes as more and more people are traveling, Trimis noted: “We really believe it’s time to offer that frictionless experience during your stay” amid the traveler’s “actual experience at the destination.”
Overall, Trimis sees Welcome Pickups working with the travel ecosystem to create and orchestrate memorable experiences and working with “the whole spectrum” of travel companies to make that happen.
Startups tackling in-destination transportation are not looking to innovate alone, but rather to collaborate with others as they seek to create more seamless experiences for travelers.