Alessandro Petazzi, founder and CEO
Musement is an Italy-based online travel agency for tours
and activities that was acquired by TUI Group in September 2018. Musement
offers experiences in more than 1,000 destinations in 70 countries, and its
content is available in eight languages.
In a series of interviews with executives participating at the event in Amsterdam in May, PhocusWire finds out what makes them tick...
What book do you recommend to others and why?
Principles by Ray Dalio. The ideas exposed are not
necessary revolutionary, but I like how its systematic approach can benefit
both one’s work and private life.
What do you do to alleviate stress?
I don’t necessarily feel an explicit need to alleviate
stress, but indeed I work out regularly and I always feel at the same time
relaxed, energized and more focused when I am done. I am also intrigued by the
promises of meditation, but I haven’t been doing that regularly yet.
Why isn't the travel startup survival rate higher than it is?
I think a lot of it has to do with a structural
characteristic of travel, which is its infrequency compared to a lot of other
digitally enabled industries such as retail, transport and delivery, etc.
Infrequency makes it more challenging than in other industries for a startup to
challenge the “top of mind” dominance of incumbent brands, and this in turn
makes unit economics of startups in the travel space relatively less appealing
for investors. It’s obviously not impossible to succeed, but indeed it is an
industry where “few winners take it all” more than elsewhere.
What are you like outside of work?
I guess this should be asked to the people who know me
best! We tend
to describe ourselves based on our intentions rather than our actions, but the
world sees us by our actions, so I would definitely be an unreliable narrator
What was your childhood aspiration?
I wanted to become a scientist, and specifically an
astrophysicist. I was fascinated by stars and galaxies and the concept of the
Big Bang, and I was reading everything I could about those topics.
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Later on as
a teenager I came to the slightly depressing realization that, although I have
always had an analytical mind, my mathematical skills were not really up to the
level needed to pursue such a career. At the same time, I got fascinated by an
entrepreneur who was a friend of my parents and started thinking that I wanted
to have a similar life path, and here we are.
What travel industry development or brand do you wish you'd
thought of first?
Airbnb, for sure. Not only for the concept itself (they were
clearly not the only startup in their space when they started) but also for how
well they nailed the brand promise and have been constantly delivering on that.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
For sure it is related to Musement. I am not the one to
spend too long in celebrations or to be self-congratulatory, but indeed the
fact that what six years ago was an idea shared with three friends over lunch
is now a company that employs almost 300 people from 25 different countries,
with offices all around the world and that after joining TUI Group is growing
at an even faster pace makes me smile when I think about it.
What I am most
proud of specifically is that we have managed to achieve this while at the same
time fostering a culture of collaboration and an “idea meritocracy.”
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Trust your guts, no need to wait years to see the
confirmation of what you already felt was right.
What one mistake do you witness others making more than
The mistake I most see is being led by emotions rather than
detached rationality in business decisions. It’s the mindset that makes people
do unproductive things, like fighting for “their idea to win” rather than for
“the best idea to win,” or reacting to unexpected challenges in the way that
makes them feel best in the short term rather than in the way that maximizes
their chances to achieve their goals in the long term and so forth.
Phocuswright Research & Executive Roundtable: Experience This!
Booking.com, Musement and Touring Bird (Area 120 - Google) discuss tours and
activities at Phocuswright Europe 2019.