"Internet was like swearing in the church"

You can also build an online brand offline. In that respect, Joost Romeijn (43) is, according to his own words, very old-fashioned. It's simple, says the founder of Sundio Group: "There are many people who like to buy from a brand, not just a store." Joost Romeijn knows exactly what he wants, not only with Sundio Group, also during lunch

You can also build an online brand offline. In that respect, Joost Romeijn (43) is, according to his own words, very old-fashioned. It's simple, says the founder of Sundio Group: "There are many people who like to buy from a brand, not just a store."

Joost Romeijn knows exactly what he wants, not only with Sundio Group, also during lunch. "Just a bouncer, on brown bread, without roast beef." The Rotterdammer - he has been living in Rotterdam for much longer than in Brabant - would like to meet in the Zalmhuis for lunch. "It's typical of Rotterdam, nice on the water, you see the ships passing by, the shipyards where the building is being built, this is a working city." And that is how he sees his company in a way, like a shop where people work hard. "A no nonsense company."

With 14 different brands, such as Eliza was here, Jiba and Sudtours, the company serves different segments of the holiday market. Sundio Group invests a lot in this. "Online brands that are not partly built-up offline may sell well, but they are not very strong brands." Romeijn gives Booking.com as an example. "That brand does not or hardly do anything about offline, they get a lot of their turnover from their affiliate network, they are only known to the experts, if you look at the much stronger names like Bol.com and Wehkamp.nl, who use offline media. to put their brand down. "

Further growth, that is what is on the agenda of Sundio Group, one of the largest tour operators in the Netherlands and online in the travel industry a big power. Romeijn is still far from resting on his laurels. "In the segmentation of target groups there is a chance for us, where the technical possibilities are improving: our strength is a huge customer database." The company still leaves opportunities there, Romeijn admits. Time to sharpen the focus.

"We still do too little with personal offers for customers: Internet is an easy mass medium, you can segment very easily, but sending a message to everyone with the same push of a button is also very easy." He prefers that the website is adapted to the search behavior of the customers. "There is still a lot to be gained there."

The personalization is done not only on the basis of supply, but also on what Sundio Group wants to sell. "It is becoming more and more a combination of marketing and revenue management ." Make sure not only that you sell something as a company, but also pay attention to what you earn the most.

Romeijn mentions KLM as an example. "They use fluctuating prices: by publishing your prices online in real time, you can easily adjust the amounts of which you sell little, the price goes down and what is sold a lot, the price goes up. make a choice and you stimulate this. " If the fluctuating price is also combined with the search behavior of a customer, the game only becomes interesting for Romeijn.

Expansion

Sundio Group is active across the border in Belgium, Spain, France and Germany. For next year, further international expansion is planned. There was a time when Romeijn looked across the border for other reasons. He once studied in Rotterdam. Entrepreneurship has always been in the blood of the student economy. With the provision of simple ski holidays for fellow students his journey of discovery began.

GoGo Tours' first website saw the light in 1995. Romeijn: "We made the decision in 1999 to fill it in. Internet would become our medium, our distribution channel." Of course Romeijn went into the sea with 'a club that belonged to the bubble'. "He just went screaming bankrupt, so we wasted a lot of money." But it worked out well. "In the end, we were the travel organization that was the first to display its offer online and that could also process the bookings, which we realized at the beginning of 2001. Especially in those first years we have grown very fast."

Head Start

And with that Sundio Group had the advantage. "We attracted the early adopters ." Was it a question of timing? "Our good fortune is that we were not inhibited by our past, when all my bigger competitors had the travel agency as a sales channel, and they were still terrified of the internet, it was really swearing in the church, and that was where the death penalty was. many parties to develop an online strategy at all, they completely cleared the six-lane highway for us and we could accelerate. " Meanwhile there is also competition online. "We paved the road, I would not know how I should have prevented it."

A large party such as TUI also keeps its business sharp. "It is not a threat, competition is needed to stay innovative, I am not someone who is very busy with others, we have to be busy with ourselves, and if I am number 2, 4 or 8 in the market, that's not what it's all about. it's all about being well-done. "

Romeijn can nevertheless not fail to emphasize that they are ranked number four of the tour operators in the Reisrevue top 50. In that study their turnover in 2009 was estimated at 370 million euros. Romeijn quickly adds that the company will go over 400 million in 2010. "We still see sufficient opportunities to grow, both in the Netherlands and abroad."

Nevertheless, Romeijn can not say whether Sundio Group still exists in the current capacity in ten years' time. "There will be a consolidation in our market, leaving at most two to three major players." Whether Sundio Group is one of those companies, Romeijn does not dare to say anything. As the property of AlpInvest Partners, the company will certainly be sold again sooner or later. But Romeijn, he asserts, has no difficulty in leaving any certainties behind.