“Go North. Go West. Go East and explore.”
Andri Kristinsson, Travelade founder, connected with 30STF from the remote Icelandic highlands, as he trekked between isolated mountain huts.
30STF spoke with Kristinsson about how Travelade procures customizable itineraries to suit the savvy, millennial business traveler on their extended stopover to Iceland in addition to leisure travelers.
Millennials Value Adventurous Experiences
According to a 2017 study by the Global Business Travel Association, 48% of millennial employees said they extended a business trip this year. Not satisfied with purchasing the bygone American dream house with the white picket fence or the au courant Rolex like the generation before them, 78% of millennials prefer to allocate their income towards collecting experiences rather than things. Travel, especially international travel, has become one of the most sought after mechanisms of personal growth.
Recognizing this innate search for unforgettable life experiences, prescient American employers now permit extended bleisure trips as a clever perk designed to retain the most talented employees. For travel managers in particular, an extended stopover in a destination like Iceland is an alluring carrot to dangle in front of their hungriest business traveler workhorses.
Iceland’s Extended Stopover Programs
Extended stopovers increase employee cultural knowledge, personal growth and company loyalty. Business travelers can take advantage of 2 Iceland airlines programs that incentivize travelers to extend their layover in Iceland to an exploratory stopover. When your air travel route includes a layover in Iceland on the way to and from mainland Europe, you can choose to extend one of those layovers into a longer stay. Iceland’s major air-carriers, Icelandair and Wow Air allow business travelers to stopover in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare. Icelandair even connects travelers to a local guide with their Stopover Buddy program.
Travelade Imparts Personalized Itineraries for an Icelandic Dream Trip
Taking advantage of their innate technological fluency, millennials don’t gravitate towards pre-packaged tours, but instead, they create independent itineraries based on their own research online.
Landing in Iceland is a jolt to the senses. The Icelandic terrain resembles a tree-less, lunar landscape. There’s a plethora of activities to choose from. Business travelers with a thirst for adventure can assay Volcanic Caving, Geothermal Hot Springs, Arctic Snorkeling, Ice Climbing, White Water Rafting, Backcountry Biking, Horseback Riding, Whale Watching or even a Beer Spa. Travelade covers the full gamut of adventure that awaits in Iceland.
An Interview with Andri Kristinsson
30SecondsToFly (30STF): How does it make economic sense for a business traveler to combine an Icelandic adventure with their business trip to Europe?
Kristinsson: Iceland Air created an incentive program for air travelers to extend their layover into a longer stopover to explore the country. It’s free for 7 days. And it’s not only Iceland Air, but the newer Icelandic airline Wow Air does the same. Both of these major airlines have very competitive rates if you are flying from the US to Europe. And it only adds maybe an hour of flight time. So for example, if you have a business meeting in Paris or London, you can go straight from all major cities in the US to there. And on your way back you can go to Iceland for up to a week at no extra charge. I feel that it’s a great way to see the country.
30STF: What’s the best way for a business traveler to make use of that stopover on their transatlantic flight?
Kristinsson: You can do it a number of different ways. Some business travelers choose only a short layover in Iceland. They spend the time at the Blue Lagoon, which is a geothermal spa that’s only 20 minutes from the airport.
For people who are coming to Iceland on a business trip stopover, I generally recommend making a base in Reykjavik, and planning day trips from there. In only an hour’s drive from Reykyavik, you can find yourself exploring Iceland’s incredible national parks, hiking on top of a glacier, or even snorkeling in the clearest water in the world. You generally wouldn’t think about coming to Iceland to snorkel, but there is an incredible crevasse in between the continental plates full of what is considered to be the cleanest water in the world. So you are basically snorkeling in between continents, the North American and the Eurasian plates.
30STF: Is that the most adventurous activity Iceland has to offer?
Kristinsson: You can also enter the belly of a massive volcano. I just tried this out myself. There is a dormant volcano that last erupted 4000 years ago. You enter a small opening at the top of the crater and then you are lowered down via cables to 400 feet underground. There is a massive cave that could fit the Statue of Liberty twice over. It’s filled with beautiful colors that make it a surreal experience.
30STF: For people who choose the full week stopover on their business trip, and want to experience more than the most popular sites, what is your ideal itinerary that allows you to travel independently and feel more immersed in Iceland?
Kristinsson: If you have a solid week on your business stopover, I would drive the Ring Road. It’s about 900 miles. You will find unspoiled nature and many remarkable outdoor activities along the way. I recommend going beyond the most popular Golden Circle Tours that focus on the South. Instead, go North. Go West. Go East and explore.
30STF: What inspired you to launch Travelade?
Kristinsson: Ever since I moved to the United States 6 years ago, people have been asking me for advice on what to do in Iceland. Slowly I realized that there’s a huge opportunity in the travel space, particularly in the activites and experiences part of it that no one has tackeled in a really good way so far.
30STF: What are your goals for the service?
The number one thing that motivates me is the potential to have impact. Throughout my startup experience, I’ve learned that having an impact on other people and businesses is something that is empowering and fulfilling for me. That’s how I approach the travel space. How can I help people experience things in a new way and find more local, authentic things to do as opposed to the top 5 things to do on Tripadvisor or any other travel app or website out there?
30STF: Out of all the markets that you could have possibly approached, why did you choose travel?
Kristinsson: I spent some time doing self-reflection. I asked myself, where is the intersection of things that I love to do professionally and personally. I think you will succeed more and enjoy life more if you do something that you are genuinely passionate about. I love the outdoors, especially mountain climbing and hiking, and I’ve always loved traveling. I’ve been to over 50 counties because I feel It’s the best way to get new experiences, meet new people and learn about other cultures.
30STF: You’ve worked in both Silicon Valley as well as in Iceland. How would you describe the evolution of the startup scene in Iceland over the past 10 years?
Kristinsson: The icelandic startup scene has changed a lot in the last decade. Firstly, there were no established mentors helping young entrepreneurs. There wasn’t much support at all. There were no accelerators or incubators. There were few role models of other entrepreneurs who started their own businesses.
Secondly, the other big that that has changed a lot in recent years is public awareness. The younger generation graduating from colleges and universities are now aware that starting their own business is a viable option. Young people today have a better understanding of what startup life means.
30STF: When I navigate around Travelade, I notice that the content is free to access and the revenue streams are hidden, is that by design?
Kristinsson: It is by design. You can think of it as a “fremium” model. We’ve been focusing mostly on getting content up and running and helping users find a great experience in Iceland. We’ve also started building revenue streams. One is pairing users with local experts who can provide personalized recommendations for a small fee. And we do take commission when we sell tours and activities.
But we don’t want to be just another booking service where you book it and you never come back. We’re trying to build a platform where you can discover ideas for your travel regardless if it’s a free activity that you can organize yourself, or if you find a local guide, or go on a paid tour. So we see Travelade becoming over time as this go-to place where you can find inspiration for your trip and save them in your “Wonderlist.”
30STF: It’s clear that you’ve made an effort to appeal to a variety of travel niches, like the foodie or the outdoors lover, but is there a specific demographic that you are particularly reaching out to?
Kristinsson: Our mission is to become a completely personalized travel platform where we start understanding and learning what type of experience you as the user want to have. We are focusing on what we call the Airbnb / millennials generation–The more savvy travelers who like to organize trips themselves and try things that are off the beaten path rather than join pre-packaged trips.
30STF: I’m extrapolating a bit, but it seems from the way you answered the previous question about Travelade learning your trip preferences to recommend activities on your next trip, that the next logical step would be that Travelade uses your feedback from your Iceland trip to help you plan a different destination. Do you plan to expand to other countries?
Kristinsson: Absolutely. That’s exactly what the plan is. We already started working on a couple of countries that share similarities to Iceland in that they are fairly small so we can do them in great detail, rather than trying to tackle the largest markets. We feel that these countries are off the beaten path, up and coming in terms of demand, and also attracting similar types of travelers that like to go to Iceland. Two of them are Cuba and Bosnia-Herzegovina, a hidden gem in Europe that has not become mainstream yet. As we progress, we plan to open up content to every country in the world.
Plan Your Transatlantic Adventure
If you’re crossing the Atlantic on a business trip this year, and you’re craving adventure, consider stopping over in Iceland. With only a few hour layover, you can visit a geothermal spa to recover before your final flight home. Or, by devoting several days, you can push your comfort zone in myriad ways by exploring the Icelandic wilderness. Either way, Travelade is a welcoming and thorough resource for your journey.