Barcelona (CNA).– To start a business and be successful is really not that easy. However, some succeed. This is the case of Atrápalo, an online travel and leisure activities agency that offers plans of all kinds at the best price. Something that began as a simple idea to help theatres to fill their empty rooms, and also to bring culture to all budgets, today has become one of the most important online entertainment companies in the world, with more than seven million monthly visits to its website, 350 employees and a turnover of €210 million a year. CNA has talked to one of its founders and the current marketing and communications manager, Nacho Sala, to find out about these twelve years of existence of Atrápalo, to identify the keys to success in the past and the prospects for the future.
The success of an idea
Often the best ideas emerge in a relaxed environment. Atrápalo was one of them. In mid 2000, four young men thought, having a coffee, about empty seats in the theatres. They saw the chance to sell those remaining tickets at a cheaper price, a solution that would be worth for both spectators and the theatres. Twelve years later this idea that gave rise to the slogan "Leisure is a right" has become a successful company.
The company was born at a regression stage of the dotcom bubble. According to Nacho Sala, they decided to opt for the Internet platform because it meant "taking part in a leading role of a revolution that is comparable to the revolution caused by the arrival of the steam engine or the electricity". This great new horizon was entirely unknown, and that is why leading that change, participating in this revolution and inventing the future seemed the best way to deal with it. "The only key to face the future is to invent the future", says Sala.
The group that carried out this idea consisted of four founding partners, Manuel Roca, Ignacio Giral, Ignacio Sala and Marek Fodor, all of which remain in the project, except Fodor. Besides Roca, Giral and Sala, the staff now has up to 350 workers. And something that started requiring an initial investment of €300,000, now generates billing revenues of €210 million annually.
12 years of experience
Co-founder Nacho Sala admits that the experience of Atrápalo "is still very limited" to extract an overall assessment. However he positively evaluates the team of innovators they have created, people willing to learn and change with the times constantly, a very important skill to face the current social networking revolution and "even greater changes still to come".
They didn’t expect it to be so successful. Atrápalo has exceeded their expectations. "We want to keep on having successes related to the development of products and services, and confirmed by the favourable opinions of people”.
A particular DNA
The Atrápalo core business is based on providing entertainment plans at a great price. "The price is our main reason for being here since the beginning", says Nacho Sala. We work together with suppliers to identify when they need to promote and then we activate the offers. "At the end, we are in front of a formula where everyone wins: the customers, because they enjoy a hotel, airline seat, restaurant, etc. at a ridiculous price, and the suppliers because they get to sell when they need it most", says Sala.
And he adds: "The 'Atrápalo Team' belongs to a generation that believes in change. In front of disenchantment of the first crisis ‘dotcom’, we opposed the enthusiasm and commitment. Our secret is not a formula but an attitude toward life”.
Over the last few years several companies have emerged in this sector of online entertainment sales. This is the case, for example, of Groupalia, Offerum or Lestbonus. Nacho Sala values the ever-increasing competition very positively. "Everyone learns from everyone. They inspire us to improve our products and services, and we help them too".
The effect of the cirsis: product substitution
Curiously, despite the current difficult economic situation, the results obtained recently by Atrápalo show that people continue needing time to disconnect. The company has increased staff up to 350 workers and its turnover has grown dramatically up to €210 million in 2011, an increase of 12% over 2010.
However, the marketing and communications manager, Nacho Sala, says that the crisis is revealing a substitution of the product demanded. "Users, who crossed the Atlantic before, now choose to travel to a European capital; and those who travelled through the continent before, now prefer trips to closer destinations". And he adds: "the demand of restaurant promotions, tickets and activities keeps growing".
Updating and strengthening
The Spanish company decided a few years ago to start expanding its business to other countries such as Italy, Peru, Brazil, Colombia or Chile. "Two years ago people told us that we were crazy if we wanted to open offices in these locations. These countries are now leading growth. In fact, Latin America is the fastest continental bloc growing economically in the world. We must dare to believe”, says Sala.
At this moment in time, its objective is not expanding the company further but strengthening it in the countries where they are set up. And taking full advantage of smartphone technology and geolocation of products and services because they are confident that these will bring about a new revolution in the way we access entertainment offers.