1. Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
I am Radu Fusea, the founder of the Travlocals.com booking platform and Wildventure Romania project. I created these two projects 3 years ago, when I started to centralize the most beautiful tourist experiences and accommodation places in Romania in one site, where tourists can book with no extra fee and interact directly with the host.
2. Share your backstory with us. How did your business or organisation come about and what was it that switched you on to this area in the first place?
I was an engineer at first and worked for 3 years in a corporation as a designer. I was never attracted by that particular field, but working there helped me a lot as I developed new skills and rigors which I used afterwards. I have an experience of over 10 years in both online and offline entrepreneurship. I believe that until the age of 30 years old I collected enough information to face a project as complex as the one I’m involved in right now is. What did attract me to the tourism side? I’ve always loved rural authentic areas, the simple country life, local architecture and good taste. I tried to do something in order to convince people not to destroy or replace but to restore. I thought that by helping them live a decent life from the local specific businesses I will be involved in the preservation of a lifestyle which has long gone in the rest of Europe.
3. What do you think or hope the future has in store for you and your business? Where do you see yourself or your organisation five years from now?
I believe that the future is bright not only for me, but for all those who choose to invest in rural tourism in Romania. In these 3 years we’ve been working in this area, we faced critical periods because we fought against legislation, technical solutions and we tried to change mentalities (the hardest part). Nobody until now managed to have a project similar to ours in Romania. It is extremely hard. A lot of work, big investments and a few financers. All these are linked to a total uncertainty. People who had similar initiatives to ours, realized after months or even years that it was all for nothing. We managed to pass this phase and now things seem to work better and better. The kind of tourism we promote is in full expansion and the pandemic has only made it better. In a maximum 5 years we want Travlocals to cover countries from Eastern and Southern Europe.
4. How has lockdown been for you and for your business and what have you done that has helped you personally and professionally?
At first, the pandemic completely stopped our activity. Nobody knew how bad it would be and how long it would last. In the first 3 weeks we had 1-2 bookings and no new memberships. Then, the bad turned into good. People realized that Romanian tourism has a unique chance and we were ready to handle the situation. In the last 6 months we invested massively in marketing and PR. We probably had the most publicized tourism project in Romania. Now, the request for new memberships is bigger and bigger because the results we got in the first 6 months after we launched the platform succeeded all our expectations. I did nothing for my personal or professional growth because I couldn’t find the time. Instead, in these 3 years I’ve worked in the tourism field I learnt 3-4 new professions and studied a lot to do things in a professional manner. Sometimes, I couldn’t afford to hire specialists.
5. What’s your take on Bucharest and Romania. What are the highs and the lows in your opinion?
Even though I’m not involved in the city-break tourism at the moment, I live in Bucharest and I find it a city full of opportunities, especially for young people. Social life is very developed here. Practically, you can’t get bored, more so if you come here for a few days. I traveled a lot and being young, I was interested in night life, but I found few places which offer what Bucharest does. In addition to that, the booking prices, especially those in a BNB system are under the average price in Europe and so are the restaurant prices. Also, the location is excellent. You can easily get to the Black Sea or the Danube Delta or you can go to the mountain area. When it comes to Romania, this country has so much to offer but needs the right strategy. We, through Travlocals.com, try to change foreigners’ perception and show them this piece of heaven of Europe. Romania is one of the wildest countries and it has virgin forests, medieval grasslands and other natural areas which host plants, birds, insect species and endangered animals. Traditions have been well preserved, the gastronomy is excellent and the rural life is a paradise in many places.
6. What is your must do/must visit/favorite thing to do or show off to visitors here in Bucharest and Romania at large?
Bucharest: You must walk its streets at night, especially the central area- Calea Victoriei, Old Town, Icoanei Gardens. I wouldn’t come to Bucharest for the monuments but for the lifestyle of the locals who have a very active social life.
Romania: In Romania, you find outstanding places wherever you choose to travel: Transylvania, Apuseni, Maramures, Bucovina, Danube Delta, Black Sea, Oltenia, Muntenia… they are so beautiful and have so much to offer. The only advice for tourists is that they should get informed before booking the best authentic experiences in Romania, and they can do so through the Travlocals.com platform which beyond the booking purpose, has an information one.
7. What is your number 1 recommendation now for a book/film/series/app/ or gadget?
Book – Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyoaski
Film – Goodfellas
Series – Boardwalk Empire
App – Facebook/Instagram – only for marketing
Gadget – Samsung Galaxy S10+
8. If you could eat in any restaurant in all of Romania and have dinner with anyone in the world (not a husband/wife/relative) which restaurant would that be and with which person?
La Saivan (Bukovina) – Al Pacino or Robert De Niro
9. Sum up your business in one sentence, what it is and why should people engage with it.
The most exclusive booking platform in Romania, which offers the best price guarantee, with no extra fee.
10. Describe your Romania in one word.