Meet the Romanian entrepreneurs competing with giants Booking and Airbnb: We guide travelers to different experiences

Georgiana Bendre | 02/03/2018 | 13:43

People nowadays are searching for their accommodations on Airbnb and Booking when deciding to go on holidays/ trips, but none of them is adapted to the Romanian internal tourism. This is why Cristian Popescu, together with his partner Alin Toader, came with the idea of robnb.ro, a Romanian platform that not only offers accommodations, but also experiences. BR talked exclusively to Cristian and found out about the platform and their plans for 2018.

 

Where did the robnb idea come from?

The idea came after we watched a TV report, where Dragos Anastasiu, one of the biggest players in tourism, was saying that Romania doesn’t have an appropriate platform of internal tourism promotion. That moment was born the idea of “Building the next generation travel experience” and we created the first site dedicated to Bed & Breakfast concept in Romania.

Was the platform necessary in Romania, when Airbnb and Booking already exist?

After a detailed research, besides the issue found out in that TV report, I identified other issues, such as: the online booking platforms either have high fees, offer a very poor user experience or have limited features for people in Romania. Also, Romania is lacking a proper way to showcase its most beautiful places and its local experiences. There is no easy way for people to get involved, be a part of and benefit from the local traveling industry.

This is why we came up with the idea of a website where anyone can rent their space, provide a personal experience and guide travelers to discover the most beautiful places in Romania.

Neither Airbnb, nor Booking are platforms for the local tourism. Robnb offers each person the possibility of getting involved in this project, to promote the local tourism and generate a profit in this activity. You can gain money via robnb by renting the accommodations, hosting experiences, but also via a share on the social media.

Robnb is translated in over 28 languages  and aims to promote Romania at national and international levels.

What does robnb offers compared with other international sites? Does it offer anything else besides accommodation?

Besides the facilities found also on the international sites, robnb.ro offers more flexibility both to hosts, as well as to guests, lower commissions and facilities such as notifications in real time, including via SMS, the possibility to choose between commissions and booking (7 percent of the booking value), the payment of a fixed annual tax (EUR 49/year), the calendar synchronization with the Booking.com or Airbnb.com platforms in order not to overlap the bookings if the property is listed on several sites, the possibility to add offers “Last Minute” and “Early booking” , telephonic support and online 24/7. The fact that we have low commissions is seen in the final price paid by tourists.

Besides accommodation, we offer touristic guides and experiences. Experiences are activities offered by locals to the tourists, willing to learn about and experiment the local traditions. The hosts of experiences can be cooks, photographers, sports lovers or any person with a passion that can be shared with others. Besides these, we also offer the possibility of creating experiences with social impact.

We offer tourists a complete travel package- Where to go,  where to stay & what to do.

Which was the investment value?

The investments value currently reaches EUR 40,000. We are working with 3 mixed teams of experts in development, travel & tourism, graphic design and user experience in Romania, USA, Denmark and Greece.

This is why the costs are pretty high, but we want to this because we want to offer the best we can to our visitors and we truly believe in the utility of this project.

How many clients do you have currently?

We currently have 300 active users, out of which 120 posted accommodation and experiences units. We are growing constantly, despite the fact that we haven’t invested yet in advertising.

What targets do you have for 2018?

In 2018 we aim to finish the application for IOS, to add around 2,500 accommodation units and a minimum of 300 experiences and increase the brand awareness. The public has to know that, even if it’s a very competitive field and the competitors are strong, we entered the market willing to raise the standards in the industry. We’ll start this Spring a more aggressive promotion in the media.

How many clients do you estimate that you’ll have until the year-end?

Until the year-end we estimate that we’ll have 800-1,000 hosts and 2,000-2,500 guests.

What do clients say until now? Were they satisfied, are their expectations fulfilled, what reviews do they have?

The users that we have at the moment are very satisfied because we are working closely to them. We talk to anyone who has something to suggest or criticize and we are making everything we can so that their feedback reflect in the design and feature of robnb.ro. Every 2-3 months we come up with upgrades or special features.

Which are the most demanded destinations?

They vary according to the season. In the summer season the most searched destination are Costinesti, Mamaia, Vama Veche, Constanta and Eforie Nord. In the winter-spring season the searched destinations are Sinaia, Predeal, Brasov, Maramures and Moeciu. However, we wantto promote also the places less known which are as beautiful as the popular ones. We highly believe that the entire Romania is beautiful and needs to be discovered step by step. This is the aim of the platform- to create connections between people and unique experiences.

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