WTTW’s Second Anniversary with new Chairman
Video platform Welcome to the World (WttW) marked its second anniversary this week with the instalment of Joop Drechsel as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors. “We see it as another milestone, and his broad experience is of great added value,” said Stefanie Schachtschabel, CEO and founder of the Dubai-based start-up.
By Arthur Blok
After chairing his first Board meeting as new Chairman, Drechsel analyses the first two years of WttW from his home in the Netherlands. Two hectic start-up years with new license holders from all over the globe, and winning the prestigious ATM Draper-Aladdin Start-up Competition in May at Dubai’s annual Arabian Travel Market 2022 (ATM) exhibition, securing an investment from Tim Draper.
Drechsel has a long career in online marketing, particularly in the Tourism Industry, and comes from a family of entrepreneurs. He grew up in large corporations like Shell and Dutch telecom provider KPN. Throughout his career, his speciality was solving complicated matters worldwide from East Africa, Russia, and Japan. For over ten years, he was the CEO of travel giant BCD Travel Netherlands.
Despite his age, 67, he is still full of energy. He retired one day; the next day, he decided to continue working. “I was always very sporty in my life. Because of that, I am full of energy, sometimes even so much that it bothers the people around me. It feels like I am still 37.”
Some business-related acquaintances who had already taken a seat on WttW Advisory Board introduced the new travel concept to Drechsel. It immediately took his attention; the ball started rolling after a call by WttW’s CEO Stefanie Schachtschabel, followed by a face-to-face meeting.
“I saw it as a great opportunity for WttW to onboard. It is another milestone, and his broad experience is of great added value”, said Schachtschabel from WttW’s head office in Dubai.
After the meeting with Schachtschabel, Drechsel flew to Dubai to meet with the other Executive Team members; he accepted the offer. “WttW is a viable concept. Otherwise, I would not even waste my time and commit myself to it,” he said.
He describes the concept of WttW as an ‘exciting proposition.’ Drechsel: “It is the first time a platform does not only focus on the perspective of the traveller but also on that of the destination, that is unique.”
Since its launch, WttW has tried to take over the travel world with a new concept where travellers book directly with the business at a specific destination and unlocks free local and venue-related welcoming benefits.
In the new concept, foreign-owned expensive commission-based travel platforms are seriously challenged: the money lands now where it’s earned with many sustainable advantages for both the traveller and the merchant.
Drechsels elaborates that approaching matters from the perspective of the destination is quite innovative in the tourism industry. Most commonly used platforms have a completely different approach. “The focus on getting a traveller to a particular destination; whatever they are going to do there is less important to them. Some guide you to certain top attractions nearby a hotel, but that is where it stops. WttW offers much more.”
Looking back on the first two years, Drechsel is confident about the future. WttW signed license agreements with destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, The Netherlands, Mexico, and Thailand. Talks are ongoing in Qatar, France, Portugal, Spain, and Saudi Arabia.
“It is a good start. These are relatively easy countries to sign up with. They all have strong national Tourism Boards, strongly connected with their governments who have Tourism as one the main pillars in their economies,” Drechsel added.
In his assessment, the real challenge for WttW is signing agreements with countries where tourism is much less of a priority. “The concept itself will work in every major global destination, but logistically it will be a colossal task to organize it properly.”
From his experience in the market, Drechsel knows you can only get something off the ground at some locations if you are physically present. “You have to deal with local traditions and bureaucracy. In some places, things still work the old-fashioned way.”
Drechsel is eager to use his experience to help structure and adequately manage WttW in all facets. In addition, he will help the Board of Directors on how to properly deal with specific matters with rational advice from someone who knows how the wheels spin.
He concludes: “Of course, I will also help particular open doors that are easier for me to open. I look forward to supporting WttW in every way possible to become even more successful.”