Founded in 2017, Retrigo brings a fresh approach to booking your next holiday. The start-up offers retreat packages centered around a specific activity or cultural experience, with the option to tailor a trip to meet the customer’s specific needs. The company is the brainchild of brothers Hady and Haissam Zaky, whose combined backgrounds in athletics and tech gave them a unique perspective and a desire to tap into a significant sector of the travel industry.
Hady Zaky sat down with MTLinTECH to give us a bit more insight into the driving force behind Retrigo.
“I’m an athlete myself. In the last few years me and my wife have been doing a lot of CrossFit, we compete in our age group and we travel. One of the things that got us into it in the beginning was that we felt we were part of a community, training and eating the same way. We took a trip to California and we realized it was difficult to maintain our training and eating while traveling, which is what we’re passionate about. So when we got back home, the initial idea was to build a platform that was geared specifically for that, for people interested in high-intensity activity. The more we researched, the more we realized that there were a lot of people interested in maintaining an active lifestyle, in health and wellness, and they need a site like ours.”
“We take the business very personally. In five years we hope to be the marketplace for health and wellness, where we can offer services beyond what we’re offering today, and ultimately we’d like to have our own retreats all over the world. We want to have fun.”
Hady and Haissam quickly realized the value their platform could bring to the travel and leisure market. Their initial research indicated not only a gap in the industry for athletes and those seeking a more active holiday, but that the majority of retreat-goers are, in fact, women.
“Personally when I’m traveling I always look for a place where it’s possible to continue my training and to keep eating the right things. Through our research we realized this market represents 10% of global travel industry today. The second thing we discovered is that that market is made up of mostly women between 25-45. Busy women, career women and mothers are interested in this type of travel. There are a lot more women traveling alone these days. They have a lot more appreciation for this type of travel. In early 2017 we were doing a lot of focus groups which led us to organizing local retreats, and the interest was predominantly from women. From low intensity to high intensity, from yoga to surfing to Crossfit, the interest always came from women. We have certain retreats that are women-only.”
The website is based on the premise of matching vacationers with local businesses who will be able to offer the customer the experience they are looking for.
“Our website allows you to specify your budget and the type of travel you’re looking for at which point we match you with people in the country or region you’re interested in and we allow them to bid for your business based on your trip criteria. We are able to offer trips that are tailored specifically to the client. For example, we had one gentleman who wanted to go to Spain. He was a yoga fanatic. He was a doctor and wanted five-star treatment. He also asked us to include the flight in the package, which is something we don’t normally do, but in this case we were able to talk to our partners and make it happen.”
For Hady and the Retrigo team, it is all about offering a quality personalized experience, one that the customer might not have access to through more mainstream booking agents. They are actively involved supporting small businesses around the world, and through their booking platform they are able to facilitate a great experience for the client while showing their support for businesses that might not otherwise be able to make that connection themselves.
“One thing that we try to do is to make sure we connect with small businesses globally. We try to develop a community, which is one of the core beliefs of our organization. Most of our retreats are outside of Canada, and actually our biggest market is Spain. We are focusing on five countries that we feel complement our organization and our personalities, so Spain, Brazil, Costa Rica, Canada and the U.S. We have a 50-item checklist that we go through when considering adding a retreat that helps us to manage the quality of the retreats we are offering. In the beginning the idea was to let the retreats sign up and match on their own with clients, but we had a lot of issues where the quality just wasn’t there. We want to be there for our clients and we want to make sure that the businesses we are partnering with are solid.”
At the end of the day, Retrigo is family business based on a love for travel, health and wellness. The future looks good for this start-up as they continue to channel their passion into creating unique experiences, and offering 24/7 support for their clients.
“We are actually a family-run business. My co-founder is my brother and Vitor is my nephew. We take the business very personally. In five years we hope to be the marketplace for health and wellness, where we can offer services beyond what we’re offering today, and ultimately we’d like to have our own retreats all over the world. We want to have fun. We’re all active people and we all love to travel. I’m a water polo athlete. I played for Team Canada and I’ve been to two Olympics with Canada. I also have a Master’s degree in Economics and I teach part-time in Concordia’s MBA program. Before Retrigo, I was working as a project manager in the I.T. field and doing some consulting and coaching. I know a lot about I.T. processes and how to bring I.T. projects to success. Haissan is a developer by trade and is also an athlete who used to play soccer at a semi-professional level. I think we bring a good mix to the table based on our careers and knowledge, and its time for us to do something that’s fun and that we can relate to.”