At Flywire, we have the opportunity to work with incredible clients in the travel industry. These are uncertain times for the world, but their resilience, innovation, and adaptability inspires us every day. We urge you to rebook your travel, instead of canceling your trip. Your continued commitment to the travel and tourism industry will help support countless people and communities, and ensure that when the world recovers, these operations still exist for you to enjoy. #postponedontcancel
Client Spotlight: IC Bellagio
IC Bellagio is an award-winning destination management company for Italy. Their bespoke travel experiences and exclusive villa rentals. Looking for a “non-Googleable experience”? Look no further than IC Bellagio’s destination specialists.
We talked to Andrea Grisdale, owner and CEO, about what makes IC Bellagio so special, and how they are responding to the COVID-19 restrictions on travel.
What makes IC Bellagio unique in the space?
IC Bellagio has been creating personalized travel experiences throughout Italy for our travelers since 1999. Each and every one of our travelers is unique. While some are visiting for the first time, the majority are returning to Italy to keep exploring the beautiful twenty regions that make up the country we so proudly call home. Whether we are enjoying an “Aperitivo Tour” in Rome, a “Gelato Making Class” in Florence, “Making Cheese” in Emilia Romagna, or “Learning How to Make the Best Orecchiette Fresh Pasta” in Basilicata, the access to local people and the opportunity to truly live as a local that we offer is second to none. Beautiful villas, boutique hotels, iconic properties, and sites that our travelers have been dreaming of for years are perfectly combined with extraordinary dining experiences, perfect logistics, and our wonderful Guest Ambassadors (available telephonically 24/7 to assist along the way). Enjoying Italy the IC Bellagio way is truly memorable.
What’s the best feedback you’ve heard from your guests?
We strongly believe our business is all about the people. Each and every piece of feedback is always focused on the amazing experience that our travelers enjoyed thanks to the incredible people they met, spent time with, and above all, learned from during their journey. Highlights of our travelers’ Italian experiences never include talk about the marble bathrooms – they are forever ‘All about the People’
How many guests do you typically see every year?
Why did you get into the travel industry?
I've had an amazing passion for travel for as long as I can remember. I started my travel career working for a British tour operator as an overseas representative, and after various experiences around the world, I ended up in Italy and stayed. Where else would you want to go? I became a local tour guide and created IC Bellagio in 1999. The rest is history.
Are you working on any new initiatives to attract and retain customers?
As always, our intention is never to lose sight of our company vision: to improve 30,000 lives per year through travel, hospitality, employment, education, and opportunity. This is our base for every decision, along with our core values.
We are very much staying in touch with our travelers during this period via email, phone calls, and fun Zoom Aperitivi together so we can catch up, chat, and stay in touch. We host Instagram Live interviews with our people throughout Italy three times per week, which is fun and very much appreciated. We are keeping our travelers and Travel Advisors fully up to date with what is happening on the ground on a daily basis.
What has been your communication with guests that have booked for the next few months?
Every situation for us is an opportunity. We are taking this opportunity to chat with our Travel Advisors and guests and keep them up to date on what is happening and what the future holds (that we are aware of). We keep people constantly updated on any news out of Italy. We are also taking the time to explain the laws that have been published regarding postponing and not canceling trips to Italy. While the new decrees do suggest that postponements may be until the end of 2020, we have chosen to be much more flexible on this and give the option of traveling throughout 2021 too. Our travelers and Travel Advisors have very much appreciated this policy
Are there any silver linings to this situation or projects you are working on that you haven’t had time for in the past?
Absolutely! We are currently working on a soon-to-be-launched project that will be aimed at the younger traveler – 30 to 40 years. This new young, cool, and hip project is very much work in progress; we are truly excited about this and quite sure it will be hugely successful.
In light of the pandemic, do you plan to invest in any new tools or resources to help recession-proof your business?
We are using technology more and more every day which in turn is enabling us to be more efficient in all aspects of the business.
What ways are you keeping the staff connected during this time?
- Daily Huddles at 9 am for 40 minutes Monday to Friday via Zoom
- Virtual Aperitivo on Fridays at 4:30 pm via Zoom
Our team reduced from 37 to 12 pax (me included). Pre-COVID-19, we had a traditional organizational chart: CEO, COO, Executive Assistant, and six managers. Everyone reported to managers, and everyone had their own area of the business where they worked.
As we reduced our team to twelve people (including me), it was all hands on deck. We have full transparency in every part of the business each and every day, with everyone involved in every decision. People are throwing themselves into different projects, taking on responsibilities for areas of the business they had never been involved in before, and, above all, being an amazing team and fully trusting each other to work together to find the best solution to a situation that we had never experienced before.
Everyone is working from home. We are much more relaxed regarding working hours and days, yet all are very focused and creative and, above all, determined to make the best out of this situation and have an even better company as we head towards a post-COVID-19 world…
Once the world returns to normal, what are you most looking forward to?
Taking a long walk with the dogs and enjoying the fresh air, seeing people again, being able to say hello personally and not via a screen, and looking back and reflecting on all that I learned during this period.
If you’d like to learn more about IC Bellagio, book your post-pandemic Italian experience, or get lost on a virtual escape, please explore https://www.icbellagio.com/experience-italy/