CEO & Co-founder | WeTravel
Johannes Koeppel worked in the travel industry in Switzerland and always loved working with groups.
"There is just no greater way to make new friends than traveling together," said Koeppel, who notes travel has always been a defining factor in his life. "Since I was 17, I haven't lived for longer than two years in one place and was fortunate to live in countries as diverse as Swaziland, Russia, Uzbekistan, Brazil, or Tajikistan."
After seven years of working with SMB tour operators, Koeppel realized how cumbersome operators handled individual payments.
"Group travel is often still managed as if we were in the year 1999—participants send in checks, or group leaders have to collect payments from everyone. This seems absurd, given that every other sector in travel has been completely revolutionized by the internet in the last 20 years."
Koeppel finds the modern traveler expects an online portal to pay installments and manage bookings.
"WeTravel provides tour operators with just that," said Koeppel, noting this gap in the market creates a huge opportunity for WeTravel to provide a much-needed upgrade to the customer journey of each group travel client.
WeTravel launched at UC Berkeley in 2016 and has grown to process hundreds of millions in payments annually. The platform is used by more than 2,000 tour operators in educational, sports and religious travel.
"I'm really proud of the rapid growth the WeTravel team has achieved so far," said Koeppel. "When we started WeTravel, we couldn't have imagined such growth in our wildest dreams."
Johannes Koeppel is one of the 2020 Top 10 Next Gens, as nominated by Groups Today readers for making a difference in the industry with his fresh, progressive perspective. Click here to see the January/February magazine.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Groups Today.