Italian-born Simone Semprini is originally from the region of Emilia-Romagna. He graduated from the University of Bologna with a Master of Science in Energy Engineering. During his studies, he spent a significant amount of time abroad at the University of Seville and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, as well as the University of California in San Diego.
Boasting extensive experience in technology, engineering, and research, he coordinates the TourScanner team, leading the strategy, business, fundraising, administration, and product management departments. Simone is the mastermind who first developed the TourScanner concept.
Simone is fluent in Italian, English, and Spanish and has written numerous publications in the field of energy and management.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Simone Semprini: My name is Simone Semprini and I am CEO of TourScanner, the world’s largest, free to use meta-search engine for tours and travel activities. Sometimes known as the ‘SkyScanner’ for tours, it enables users to carry out price comparisons on must see and must do attractions across the globe, making them accessible to everyone, everywhere.
TourScanner offers over 500,000 tours across the world through its app and website. Its unique technology connects travellers to thousands of online travel agents, tour operators and activity providers, providing users with endless choices and travel inspiration.
TourScanner’s ambition is to change the way tours and activities are booked. It’s estimated that only 20% of tours and travel activities are booked online while the majority, 80% are booked offline. We have huge ambitions for the company, which is based in Lisbon, Portugal and Hamburg, Germany.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Simone Semprini: The situation is going back to normal: from the last data at TourScanner, we can see that travel is resuming in many countries.
During travel restrictions due to the pandemic, tourism was strongly reduced, especially international tourism. Some sub-segments thrived, like RVs or boat rentals, but in general, most travel businesses were hardest hit.
In 2022, we will see the return of international travel if there aren’t any new COVID variants changing the scenario. After two years of travel restrictions, people are really eager to travel again without restrictions and rules changing continuously.
Therefore, travel businesses should be prepared to receive a similar amount of guests as in 2019, starting from Spring 2022.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Simone Semprini: The pandemic has disrupted some sectors of the economy, while it has hugely boosted other sectors. In 2022, badly affected businesses should see a return to normality. Businesses that could ride the positive trend should focus on what will remain after the pandemic.
There’s still some uncertainty, but the data of the last weeks seem to say that the worst part of the pandemic should be finally gone.
As for advice for other travel businesses, I’d say to focus on what was really working well in 2019. People are dreaming of the same experiences as they were dreaming in 2019. Just consider a little more emphasis on cleaning standards and avoiding overcrowds.
For example, tours involving transportation or indoor spaces can reduce the number of participants to ensure a better social distance and feeling of safety.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Simone Semprini: The pandemic badly impacted travel. When the pandemic hit, global tourism completely stopped. International tourism hasn’t fully recovered yet. Local and national tourism had definitely a better time.
Regarding tours and activities, we have seen a shift from indoor activities (such as attractions, museums, shows and events) to outdoor activities. We adapted to this scenario by targeting different types of tours and destinations. For example, the situation in the United States improved much faster than in Europe. Therefore, we tried to focus on American destinations with outdoor activities.
We target locally and focus on activities that are open and people can feel safe doing, such as hiking, boat tours, water sports and day trips.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Simone Semprini: I wish we knew more about the duration of the pandemic and how it would impact business sectors. I think the most unpredictable thing was the behavior of the governments with respect to the restrictions. Somehow, in many countries, it seemed that the problem was only about international travelers.
In 2022, we will keep improving our product and marketing in order to acquire more customers and serve them better.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Simone Semprini: Some of those trends will be reduced (like home entertainment as people begin to go out more), but most will remain in 2022 (remote working, online shopping, etc.). The latter were trends already before the pandemic — COVID just boosted them.home for a more balanced and better lifestyle.
Some online services remain appreciated even when the situation is getting better. For instance, remote work has been proven more effective in saving transportation costs, and it’s more friendly to the environment. Some companies offer their employees the option to continue working from
Online shopping has been a trend in the last 15 years, but it has grown a lot during the pandemic. It will keep growing as the economies of scale make it more convenient than physical stores.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Simone Semprini: Approximately eight to ten hours. Our business is totally online, so all of our work requires being at the computer. We all work from home right now.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Simone Semprini: We learn a lot from our mistakes, and we try to share the learnings with the team. The founding team has a longer experience in the travel sectors and we often know what has happened in the past and what we have seen working well or not. We try to share those learnings with the entire team.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Simone Semprini: The main short-term challenge is still represented by COVID and travel restrictions. There might be a new COVID variant in the near future. And, some countries have become so used to implementing health safety checks for international arrivals that it might take a considerable amount of time before people will be able to travel as they used to before the pandemic.
However, there is a real pent-up demand for travel experiences that will explode as soon as people can travel again. Our growth opportunity is delivering the best experience to those travelers.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Simone Semprini: Besides travel, I’m interested in fintech and global payments, as they are also connected to traveling (see currency conversions or travel credit cards). Crypto will potentially play a role in reducing barriers around the movement of money between countries. However, today, there aren’t any real disrupting applications (besides trading itself and related services). There is much hype around NFTs, but again, not many real-world applications.
Online marketing is always evolving, and it’s super interesting to understand the behaviors of online customers while using web and mobile applications. Online advertising is being challenged by privacy concerns. It’s interesting to see how the technology evolves around user behaviors and regulation.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Simone Semprini: If so many employees decide to quit their job, it means a lot of bosses are not doing their job correctly. Every boss should question one’s way of working with their team. Small companies like us have different dynamics compared with big corporations. We work as a team, and we try to be close to our employees, so everybody is involved.
Weekly and monthly follow-ups help us know how our employees feel working with the team, and how they are integrated into the project. Do they like what they are doing and feel they’re evolving, learning and progressing? We prioritize the well-being of our employees. It’s crucial that they believe in the company and what they’re working on. If they don’t believe in our purpose, it’s useless. They need to feel that they are part of the project.
There is another important point to consider in the US. More and more people are interested in starting their own business or project, dedicating more time and money to that. In the last couple of years, there has been a boom of newly created businesses in the US, and most of those people resigned from their jobs.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Simone Semprini: This is a tough choice. If I have to pick a business superpower, I would choose the ability to predict how the market will react in the future. Then I could make sure i have implemented the right strategies to align with market expectations.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Simone Semprini: The last two years have been very difficult for the travel industry, particularly for small businesses that often receive way less financial support. When those small companies can overcome the impact of the pandemic, which is one of the biggest crises in history, it already means success to me.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Simone Semprini for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Simone Semprini or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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