As we write this, our booking software has been used by tour and activity companies in 121 countries, we have 18 different nationalities on our team, and we've been listed by Business Insider as one of Switzerland's hottest startups.
From the very beginning, TrekkSoft has been based in a Swiss mountain town with a population of 5,300. Here's how we did it.
A SaaS startup to solve the needs of Interlaken's tourism network
TrekkSoft wasn't formed in an incubator, it was developed in the heart of a thriving tourism and adventure sports hotspot that had a direct and immediate need for booking software. Here's the beginning...
Mid-nineties: Jon, our now-CEO, started out as a raft guide, guiding multi-day trips in Nepal, India, South America and the US.
2001-2006: After relocating to Switzerland, Jon co-founded Outdoor Interlaken in 2001 and became Co-Owner of Bus2Alps in 2006. Meanwhile, Phillippe and Valentin, our now-CFO/COO and CTO, were studying at the University of St. Gallen and starting e-commerce and web design agencies.
2007-2008: Outdoor Interlaken and Bus2Alps needed a way to sell their tours and activities online. They weren't the only ones: Interlaken's tourism industry wanted a way to manage point-of-sale bookings online, allow direct bookings from agents and hotels, and let partner companies cross-sell Interlaken's tours and activities. In 2007, Philippe joined Jon at Outdoor Interlaken and at Bus2Alps as Co-Owner in 2009.
The perfect storm of experience and background was being created for 2010...
2010: In response to local tourism needs, TrekkSoft was founded in Interlaken by Jon Fauver (CEO), Valentin Binnendijk (CTO), and Philippe Willi (CFO/COO). Jon contributed his background of 20+ years in the industry, while Valentin and Philippe brought their experience as serial entrepreneurs, founders, and board members.
TrekkSoft, "Interlaken's biggest tech startup"
It's here that TrekkSoft has stayed and grown. On paper, Interlaken is a small mountain town with a population of 5,300, but it's dubbed by many as the adventure capital of Europe and a major industry player in tourism and adventure travel.
Step out of our office and you're in a hotspot for hiking, paragliding, skydiving, hang gliding, and canyoning. With the Jungfrau mountain region in the distance, it's also an ideal gateway for wintersports.
By basing our team here, we're rubbing shoulders with customers on a day-to-day basis, whether they're calling in for a meeting or having a beer with us in the bar. This direct contact is invaluable: our team has an understanding of our customers that would be lost if we were more cut-off.
One example: we knew that local paragliding pilots often have to manage and change their capacity before flights. They're not based in an office, so they need something on-the-go. We understood this and solved it with our mobile app.
Powering the tour and activity industry from a Swiss mountain resort
When TrekkSoft launched, we were able to use Interlaken as a microcosm of the wider tour and activity industry. Interlaken already had multi-day trip providers, incoming tour operators, and DMOs: by nurturing this area and its needs and pain points, TrekkSoft could become powerful and scale-up fast.
Fortunately, we can thank local companies and our forward-thinking Interlaken Tourism Office for seeing the advantages of booking software on a local scale. They realised the potential of making a destination website not just a showcase, but a user-friendly booking platform.
Moving forwards: Europe and beyond
We've managed to build our global position from Interlaken and we're continuing to expand internationally. You'll see us at major industry events, and companies all over the globe are using our software. As of writing this article, companies in 121 countries have accepted our terms of service.
In a scaled-up version of our original Interlaken network, Fjord Norway is bringing TrekkSoft to the Norwegian fjords, showing that the industry is catching up with our vision of 5+ years ago on regional and national scales.
Tourism is making great strides, and the rapid progress by leading distribution channels such as Viator and Expedia also creates a promising path forwards. We're excited to be a part of this.
Our plan now?
To continue expanding, to focus on our key markets, and to solidify our role as the number one booking platform in Europe for tour and activity providers. All from Interlaken.
Written by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy is Head of Content Marketing at TrekkSoft. She tries to read a book a week, travel solo every month, and share ideas on lucyfuggle.com. You can usually find her in Switzerland's Berner Oberland.