Meet Eleni from Travel12 and MAMAKITA
Mamakita means “Mommy, look!”, and it’s a phrase commonly used by young clientele on Mamakita’s family-friendly tailored tours of Greece. That, and “How old is that?” according to co-founder and head of travel design & sales Eleni Fotiou. “Travelling in Greece you come face to face with your past. Wherever you come from, when you see this land and the monuments, you start asking questions about human history. It makes Greece so unique.”
This unique element is the driving force behind Mamakita and Travel12, two brands specialising in custom cultural trips in Greece. Travel12 is a boutique travel agency launched by Tasos Mylonas in 2017. Its name references the 12 ancient Greek Gods, promotes Greece as a 12-month destination, and alludes to the number 12’s meaning of ‘unity’ through its end-to-end bespoke itineraries.
Mamakita offers the same focus on culture and tailored trips, but with a family-friendly focus. Also in 2017, Eleni with Ifigenia Lanara founded Mamakita. After the birth of her third daughter, she started writing for a travel magazine: “I was taking the kids with me because there was no possibility to leave them at home, but mostly because I liked to do that.”
She soon saw the value in knowing the family-friendly hotels, kid-friendly beaches, and the local ‘child whisperers’ that could bring a historical monument to life. “I could see all the gaps in the services or the best things. I started this blog about travelling with families. Then my friends became parents and I started creating plans for them. I realised there was a gap in the market.”
Neither Tasos nor Eleni and Ifigenia came from tourism backgrounds – banking, economics and international relations respectively – but they now manage a team of 14 local experts across both brands.
“Two sets of people started a similar thing, but with the same work ethic and the same vision for end-to-end customised cultural trips. We approached travelling the way we like to travel. It’s a business, but at the same time it’s an art… and then Covid brought us together,” Eleni says.
The pair met in 2019 when business was flourishing for both, but it was only during the enforced pause of the pandemic that they joined forces, selling Greece to Greeks to deal with the limits on travel.
“It was a good exercise because working with the clientele of your country is the toughest clientele. The merging of the two companies was kind of a natural consequence of our cooperation over those two years.”
Both brands’ emphasis remains on an authentic trip, specific to the traveller’s interests and needs. Eleni notes: “People that I wrote about, and I met personally became our loyal suppliers. Many aren’t traditional tourist operators but local businesses. For example, the best olive oil producers, wine producers, cheese producers; arts and crafts suppliers. Then of course, this list expanded with more people that we met over the years.
“Greece, despite the fact it’s a touristy country, is not very touristically developed. You can still find places where old women loom not because of tourist reasons, but because this is their life. The experiences that people nowadays are looking to find, they won’t find in an embellished environment. We know where to find the raw material.”
Teaming up with Tourwriter
Eleni turned to Tourwriter when she needed to make the business more efficient. Her initial process of creating a Word document itinerary via copy, paste, and then editing pictures, was slow and laborious.
“Tourwriter helped us a lot, firstly because it’s a great way to present to our customers; very beautiful itineraries, coherent and very well understood. Plus, the pdf version helps our clients understand the detailed itinerary, where they’re going to meet the guides.”
“It means we can focus on the essence, what the traveller wants, and not on the appearance”
“And, secondly, because it helps us in making the cost calculations in the pricing mode.”
Eleni says when she was creating her own PDFs for Zicasso, she had a lower than 20% conversion rate. “Now, working with Zicasso and Tourwriter – the same channel, the same approach, just a different tool – my conversion rate is always above 20% and it sometimes can reach 39% which is an amazing number. Being able to respond really quickly, it’s important for that conversion.”
While only a couple of people are predominantly using Tourwriter in the Travel12 & MAMAKITA group, steps are underway to expand the team’s use of the product across the business. Once tourism restarted, Eleni says: “It was crazy here, clients started to bombard us. We’ve got through this very busy season and now it’s time to get the best out of the tool.”
Travel12 and Mamakita also plan to build upon their strengths and grow their respective clientele – and their horizons. Their expertise in delivering excellent cultural programmes has not gone unnoticed and they’re looking to expand into tours of another great historical nation.
Eleni says: “The Travel12 & Tasos received a proposal of expansion to Italy. I have studied in Italy, Ifigenia has developed many business projects there, so we’ve started to cooperate in expanding to Italy, doing the same thing. There’s lots to look forward to.”