We had the pleasure of interviewing Sorin Stoica, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eturia Group, where he delves into the formidable challenges facing tour operators and DMCs in the Maldivian market. Eturia group was recently recognised as “Top Producer” for the Romanian Market at the TTM Awards & Gala 2023.
In the interview, Sorin highlights a strategic roadmap encompassing constant innovation, sustainable practices, and proactive adaptation to industry trends. He sheds light on Eturia’s unique offerings and direct partnerships for personalised experiences.
Tourism has always been an industry in which we had to quickly adapt to challenges, continuously innovate and assume high-risk scenarios in situations that did not seem critical for other industries. In addition to the pandemic that brought so many changes and critical transformations in our field, up to the increasingly fierce competition, the management of a business in tourism obliges you to always be one step ahead of the rest.
One of the primary challenges in the Maldivian market is the intensifying competition among tour operators and DMCs, driven by the increasing demand for unique and personalised travel experiences. To address this, our strategy focuses on constant innovation in crafting exclusive itineraries and forming strategic partnerships with local partners for authentic experiences. Also related to competition, we must also consider the competition between destinations now that the whole world has opened up for those willing to travel. What do we do in case of this challenge? We have a magical mix: partnerships, products, pricing, and a 3P that has proven to be a winner many times for us. Partnerships with authorities, hotels and DMC, a fantastic collaboration that gives us access to superior and unique services, an amazing openness to explore the most amazing attractions of the destination and support for every project we want to build. The products are what help us differentiate the destinations; whether we are talking about adventure, wellness, or honeymoon products, we always try to bring something new to the products to instil the local flavour in the most authentic way. The price is what can shape a new travel trend, especially since people are more and more attentive to resources and this challenge is mitigated by volumes, the partnerships we mentioned, payment facilities and various promotions.
Another significant challenge is the need for sustainable tourism practices. As a responsible tour operator, we are committed to environmental conservation and community engagement. Our initiatives include promoting eco-friendly resorts, supporting local conservation projects, and actively participating in community development programmes. It is not easy to be sustainable, and the costs are not negligible, but we want the children of our tourists to be able to explore with the same joy the destinations that their parents loved and admired many years ago.
In conclusion, our approach involves a combination of innovation, sustainability, risk management, and market diversification to overcome the challenges and uphold our commitment to delivering exceptional travel experiences in the Maldivian market.
In the 16 years of Eturia, we have added more than 150 destinations to our portfolio, some more special than others, and we have managed to permanently come up with news for the market we serve.
Firstly, we have developed a selection of exclusive Maldives travel experiences and packages that respond to the diverse preferences of our customers. From luxurious beachfront escapes to intimate overwater villas, our offerings showcase the epitome of opulence and serenity that the Maldives is renowned for. Eturia packages are designed for families or couples, for explorers and for people who want to enjoy SPAs and wellness procedures, for those who love reef diving, adventurous watersports experiences or romantic getaways.
With a wide portfolio of accommodation possibilities carefully selected and checked by Eturia’s specialists, our clients can choose between 4 or 5-star hotels with top services and facilities that meet Eturia’s standards. In our Hotels Collection project, we have established direct contracts with a variety of resorts in the Maldives. This allows us to offer our clients unmatched flexibility, personalised services, and exclusive perks. Whether it’s a private dinner under the stars or an immersive marine life excursion, these direct partnerships enable us to create tailor-made experiences that go beyond conventional travel.
What sets our Maldives offerings apart is our proactive approach to enhancing the overall travel experience. Through our promotional campaign with dedicated Maldives charter flights, we have ensured perfect and convenient travel for our customers during the peak period.
When we noticed that the Romanians consider us the agency of exotic destinations, we constantly enriched the list of services offered. If we’re still talking about unique experiences, we don’t shy away from building Signature vacations, which start from our client’s dreams for certain destinations.
I would like to say that in tourism, having a pair of eyes and ears is not enough. I don’t say this for anything because, in this field, you have to always be present, mobilised to innovate, invest in resources of all kinds, and constantly analyse the results of your work. This monitoring also extends to the area of trends, and we at Eturia like to always be up-to-date, present on the market with the destinations of the moment, and, above all, pay attention to what our customers expect from us. The Maldives travel industry is undergoing dynamic changes, too, and several key trends are shaping its future. Here are some of the trends that will definitely change the way tourism is taking place in Maldives:
Automations are in power. Given our increasing reliance on technology, it is perhaps not surprising that one of the biggest trends predicted for 2024 in travel is automated bookings. We have relied on these trends and exploited them since the pandemic, during which more and more consumers have understood how many things can be done online 100%. Automated bookings (online desktop and mobile) are not new, but they are expected to grow significantly in the coming years. If in 2020, the online travel booking market was worth $432 billion, by 2025, that value is expected to rise to $833 billion. Mobile technology is becoming the dominant method of booking, and people no longer postpone the search for a vacation to get in front of a computer. This leads us to invest even more in the technology side and especially in the area of booking from anywhere and anytime, calling on OTAs, such as www.sejurexotic.ro, the place where anyone can book hundreds of vacations dedicated to exotic destinations, such as Maldives, with full reservation in less than two minutes.
From mass targeting to the core of each client, The demand for personalised travel experiences is on the rise in the Maldives market as well. Travelers seek unique and tailor-made itineraries that cater to their specific interests. Technology creates more and more the conditions for personalisation, in-depth knowledge of the customer, creation of dedicated messages and a sales flow with the imprint of each individual tourist. Here, our skill and agility in developing technologies mattered a lot, which would not have been possible without the internally built tech division that caters to all our needs, our clientele and this continuous customisation process, appreciated and expected from over 71% of international customers, according to a Mckinsey study carried out in 2022.
Mixing business and leisure = bleisure During the pandemic, we built several vacation packages that helped Eturia clients to work remotely from exotic paradises such as the Maldives. Based on the open destinations and the available hotels, we outlined that leisure with a time zone optimised for remote work, with hotels that offered work facilities and with those leisure activities that were meant to bring relaxation so appreciated in a period so loaded with stress and the unknown. Today, in a normal context, these habits have decreased a little in weight, but we notice that they have not disappeared.
Growing sustainability According to a report from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Trip.com Group, 69% of travellers are actively seeking sustainable travel options in 2023. And this trend aligns with our values and business model. We really want our activity to have as little impact as possible in the area of pollution and resource consumption and for those who visit the Maldives today to be able to do so in the decades to come. It is not easy to do this in a field that involves travelling, exploring untouched lands, and moving resources from great distances.
We started from an explorer’s dream and ended up at the Eturia group, we started from a tourism bill in Europe and now we have clients for whom boarding passes are issued every day, and these successes are due to people’s trust in what we are we. For this, I am grateful and together with my team, we are taking today’s superior services to tomorrow’s excellence.
My vision for Eturia Group in the Maldives is to establish our brand as the foremost provider of sustainable luxury travel experiences. We aim to be recognised for seamlessly combining luxury with responsible tourism, contributing positively to the environment and local communities.
Strategic partnerships will be actively pursued within the Maldivian tourism industry. Collaborations with renowned resorts and airlines will be fostered to create exclusive offerings. Expansion in charter services will contribute to increased accessibility and convenience for travellers to and from the Maldives.
I like to dedicate a lot of time to strategy and future plans, and the Eturia group has proven so far that it is that environment that feeds on plans and turns them into reality quite quickly. I would like to believe that in a short period of time, both in the B2B and B2C areas, we will balance the offline – online areas; we will even implement all the necessary activities to further increase the adoption of online tourism in our client’s life.
In summary, Eturia Group’s future in the Maldives is characterised by a commitment to sustainable luxury, strategic expansion, diversified offerings, technological innovation, strategic partnerships, and the optimisation of charter services. We aspire to lead the way in providing unparalleled travel experiences while maintaining a strong focus on responsible and innovative tourism.