“The metaverse is the anti-travel”

The company he founded and now runs, TravelPerk, has revolutionized the corporate travel industry. From Barcelona and in the midst of a pandemic, it has taken a giant leap to become a company Unicorn (valued at more than 1,000 million dollars) after the entry of new investors. Avi Meir (Tel Aviv, 1982) co-founded the company in 2015 with Javier Suárez, but had previously tried his luck with the launch of Hotel Ninjas. It was his first target: in less than two years he had sold the business to Booking.

TravelPerk also suffered during the pandemic; They left the offices of Torre Glòries with impressive views of the city, where this photo session was made, to occupy a coworking space in the Gòtic. They adjusted and are now growing back at the rate of Unicorn.

Vegetarian, father of two primary school children, educated in Paris and in love with Barcelona, ​​Meir drives a black Tesla and signs up for intermittent fasting to stay in shape. He is a tireless entrepreneur who celebrates successes with cava and “greatest hits” with champagne.


Avi Meir photographed in its offices in Torre Glòries, which the company abandoned due to the pandemic

Xavier Cervera

Congratulations for the evaluation. Did you open the champagne?

This time I opened the cava. In the end, the jump in valuation comes after the entry of a new investor, which means that we have sold another piece of the company… When we sign a valuable client or solve an important problem, that is where we open the champagne. It’s less sexy, but more relevant to the business. And we love cava!

He has entered the ‘1,000 million club’ with a travel company in the biggest crisis in the sector. Are we traveling again?

Totally, companies and also travelers are keen. In our sector, we see that 85% of companies have returned to travel practically normally; in the tourist area, of vacations, forecasts say that this summer will not only be better than before Covid, it could be the best in history. We live a moment of euphoria.

Technology can help us to be more efficient and sustainable, but the trip has an emotional factor that is essential”

Technology has totally transformed the world of travel. How far can you go? Will an AI decide how and where we will travel?

We are a travel tech company, a technology and service company, but our main mission is to connect people in the real world, for people to travel.

No traveling in the metaverse…

The metaverse is our worst enemy; Mark Zuckemberg’s plans in this area are anti-travel. For us, technology is at the service of the traveler and not the other way around. Technology can help us to travel more and better, to use more efficient and sustainable means of transport, but travel has an emotional factor that is essential. And that must be the center of the industry.

Avi Meir

Avi Meir likes to travel light

Xavier Cervera

Your company has revolutionized corporate travel by making transportation, hotel, and service management easy. Do not dare to make the leap to the tourism business?

The truth is that many of our corporate clients tell us that they would like a similar service for the holidays. On paper it would be a success because it is a model that makes traveling easier and more flexible, but we want to keep the focus on our business, which is business travel.


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Antonio Orti

TIK TOK FOUNDER

He’s changed offices, I see. The views of the Torre Glorias through the alleys of the Gothic.

Before the pandemic we were in Torre Glòries and we wanted to grow; With the arrival of Covid, practically without activity and teleworking, the office was the first cost that we cut to stop the blow. Now we are installed in a coworking in the Gothic but we are looking for more space; we always need more space…

With the arrival of Covid, practically without activity and teleworking, the office was the first cost that we cut to stop the blow”

Have they recovered from the blow?

We are more than 1,000 people around the world; In addition to Barcelona, ​​we have offices in the United Kingdom, Germany, the Philippines and the United States and we are constantly hiring staff. I’d say we’re doing fine.

The company has multiplied in size since it was founded in 2015. Is it hard to keep up? Is it still fun?

Of course, it’s much more fun than before… Personally, my big milestone has been going from knowing everyone and controlling everything to being part of a management team in which most of the area managers and managers are better prepared And they know more than me. Before, I had to solve most of the problems; Now I find out when they were fixed and someone has solved it. For me it is fantastic, as a manager it is a liberation.

Avi Meir

Spiderman, very present in the TravelPerk offices in Torre Glòries

Xavier Cervera

In the sector he has cultivated his fame as a geek and a lover of superheroes. In his office in the Glòries tower they were everywhere…

It’s true, I’m a geek: I like it star trek and I speak Klingon (the language spoken by the humanoids in the series). But I don’t like superheroes, or Spiderman, or Superman… Although I am a fan of a superhero, in this case a business superhero: Elon Musk. I idolize him, I consider him to be the most important businessman of the 21st century, every businessman or entrepreneur should pay attention to him… I would love to meet him in person.

Born in Israel, works and lives in Barcelona, ​​travels all over the world. Globalization in its purest form…

Totally. I was born in Tel Aviv, my wife is French, my children were born in Barcelona. But the truth is that I don’t know what my children’s native language is; I speak to them in Hebrew, my wife in French, they speak Catalan at school, as well as English, Spanish and Chinese. I couldn’t tell you where my children are from…

The only superhero I admire is Elon Musk, he is the most important businessman of the 21st century.”

Why did you choose Barcelona?

I moved to Barcelona in 2009 with my wife to do an MBA and we saw that it was an excellent place to live and also to start a business. The city has good weather. high quality of life, it is still quite affordable, there is talent, foreign workers love it, it is very well connected and El Prat airport is very comfortable. Not everything is perfect, really. For example, it is not very business-friendly currently; there are other more open cities. We could grow much more.

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How does Avi Meir travel? Give us some tips…

I like to travel light and take advantage of the trips to work. The best investment to travel quietly is to buy noise-canceling headphones; in case you get the crying baby in the seat next to you. I usually travel with a cabin backpack that fits everything from clothes to computer.

What is your preferred airport?

The Prat.

Well, it’s highly criticized. Due to delays, saturation…

Before, I worked at Charles De Gaulle in Paris, absolute chaos. It is true that the food in Tel Aviv is better, but El Prat is a very comfortable and modern airport. It’s very efficient, small, you arrive quickly, you don’t have to take a bus or a train inside the airport, and it takes you anywhere in the world by direct flight or with a stopover. For us it works.

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