March 5, 2024 Group builds on its European foothold

ITB Berlin News sat down with Andy Washington, General Manager for Europe at Group, to discuss the central role of Europe within the brand’s global expansion plans.

What is’s group’s main focus at ITV Berlin this year? 
We’ve got two clear objectives. One is to continue to build partner relations. We’ve been working hard in our European markets to grow our partnerships. We’ve built that trust over the past three years and we’re very excited about the growth that’s coming from that. And then the second objective is to continue to build our brand in Europe. We are well known globally, particularly in Asia and China, but less in Europe.  

How significant is the European market for’s global strategy and how is the company expanding its presence in Europe? 
Part of our mission is to be a global business. Historically, most of the volume has been from China, but we’ve invested heavily in all of our markets. In Europe, we’ve doubled the size of our workforce, and increased our marketing investments. As a result we’ve quadrupled the unique visitors to our site.

We have focused on some core markets: the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, but we are also going to be expanding into other European markets. We have some satellite offices across Europe in order to be close to our partners. And, we’re a big believer that one size doesn’t fit all, so our site is localised for different markets to fit customer needs and their specific behaviour.

Globally we have the humble ambition of becoming number one. We know there are strong competitors out there but we believe in what we’re doing and the growth we will have, and Europe will be a big contributor towards that growth. 

What are your impressions of the current state of the travel industry, particularly in light of recent global events? 
Feeback suggests that market demand in Europe may have experienced a slight slowdown. We know the economy has been tough across Europe in recent times. But as a player that’s come into the market, our growth volumes are outperforming the market. Those challenges are there, but we’re not a legacy business that’s holding on to volumes from the past, we’re growing our volumes.

Looking ahead, what are your predictions for the future of the travel industry? 
I think Europe is going to see more and more of a shift towards app and mobile bookings. We are already seeing that in Asian markets. Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) is the big buzzword at the moment although it’s been around for years. We have TripGenie, an AI recommendation tool, and 80% of all our customer service inquiries are now served by AI.

Why do you believe shows like ITB Berlin are crucial for the travel industry and for
I always believe that people buy from people. And here you have the opportunity to match that to what customers are looking for, and build trust with your partners. We’re all short of time as well. So events like this allow you to meet many more partners in a very efficient way, in a great environment. 

Hall 9 / Stand 108