When travelling becomes a business
Svetoslav Manov, from Samokov, Bulgaria is currently a student at Hotel Institute Montreux. At the age of 20 he has his own company and he is sharing with us his journey from the United States to Switzerland.
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
At the age of 8 my family won the green card lottery and moved to Chicago, United States looking for a better opportunity. It was hard shaping our life in a very different culture without speaking a word of English. However, this made me stronger and helped me adapt easily at a young age. I took advantage of this opportunity and gave my all in school. I got my first job when I was 15 as a general employee at a grocery shop and then I spent 2 years working at a local pizzeria. This was my first hospitality job.
There I discover my passion for hospitality and I understood that it is one of the most stable industries, so I started researching to find the best hospitality school. I came to a conclusion that Swiss Education Group was the best option for me as it offers opportunities in hospitality, culinary, and even design.
“I chose HIM because I knew it would be the best school to develop my entrepreneurial skills and make my dream come true. What was my dream? Open my own business of course!”
How did the idea of creating a travel agency start?
First of all, it all started from my love and passion for traveling. Since a young age I have been traveling quite a lot. Having visited over 20 different countries, traveling became something I really enjoyed doing. I really like meeting new people and learning new cultures.
When the time came and I had to choose a career path, I knew that it had to be in the travel and hospitality industry. Being here at HIM, I really focused on an idea that I had formed since I was in high school, to create my own travel agency. I kept the idea in the back of my head and had it there during every lesson trying to connect what I was learning, like a puzzle, piece by piece. With a lot of research, market and competition analysis and trends forecast, I was able to put together a business plan. I also had a lot of help and advice from my lecturers to develop a concrete foundation of the business.
Tell us more about your company.
Le Concierge Travel. The name represents our selling point, which is offering a more luxurious service (concierge service) in the art of the travel industry and being able to display it online. Over a year, together with a team of 20 software developers, I was able to create an online platform with over 700,000 hotels, transportation services linking 2,500 destinations, rental car services in 180 countries and all major airline companies including low cost carriers. Integrating those services with a very user friendly booking engine, customer loyalty program and a top notch customer service with prices cheaper up to 40% compared to other online travel agencies, we are promising our customers that we will go above and beyond their expectations.
Did your studies in HIM help you achieving your goals?
Definitely, if it were not for my lecturers and lessons, I wouldn’t have the knowledge and confidence to build and open my own business. Lessons are focused on very detailed studies that build you not only as an hotelier, but really touch all the different paths in the hospitality and tourism industry. You are introduced to all these paths and by the time you graduate you already have found your path, whether it’s from your internship experience or you found something that really interests you! What I enjoy most is the very close relationship between lecturers and students, which is very important in case someone needs extra help or support. They are great professionals from the industry and really introduce hospitality to us with not only theory but also with real life events and stories.
Which were the big challenges that you faced so far?
Everyday is a challenge, when you want to succeed. You have to challenge yourself constantly, set goals and always push yourself to go above and beyond the expected or desired results. One main challenge that I have is working and studying at the same time. I have to manage my time well. I am collaborating with people from all over the world; I must be available 24/7 in case of emergencies and special assistance to our clients. I have sacrificed a lot of things like spending time with friends and having fun but you get what you give in order to get results and succeed. Another challenge is that I have to manage the company from abroad since it’s based in the United States. By being focused and chasing your dream with passion and love for what you do, any challenge can be overcome.
What would you recommend to students who would like to start their own company?
I recommend to everyone who wants to open a business to really understand that by making this step, you dedicate yourself and sacrifice a lot. It’s a big responsibility and it depends only on you and your ideas. I also recommend if you have any ideas for a business to bring them up, get advice from lecturers, network and be open to people.