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Vanessa Latessa

Bus2Alps, new member of WYSE Travel Confederation, describes itself as a travel partner and friend to students and youth travellers in need of fun, safe and high quality experiences when travelling. Now in its 12th year, Bus2Alps has four departure cities – Florence, Rome, Barcelona and Prague – and over 15 destinations throughout Europe.

We spoke to Vanessa Latessa, CEO of Bus2Alps, to learn more about their mission to help students see more of Europe.

Tell us your story. How did Bus2Alps get started?

In early 2003, study abroad students mainly travelled Europe by train. The founders saw an increasing need for reliable transport between Florence, Italy and Interlaken, Switzerland after strikes prevented students from visiting the adventure capital of Europe.

Twelve years later, we have carried over 100,000 students to more than 40 destinations in Europe.

What are your unique selling points? What makes you different?

We offer a full travel experience for study abroad students, from the moment they start planning their trip through the bus ride home. Our team is made up of experienced, passionate travellers, the majority of whom have recently studied abroad in Europe, so we understand what makes the perfect trip on a budget and how to deliver a comprehensive travel experience with all the options needed to see the most in any destination.

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What are some of your success stories?

Beyond having a stellar safety record, we’re also very proud of the continued history of excellence in our trips. We’ve won TourRadar’s ‘Most Amazing Tour’ for our Amalfi Coast trip twice, and currently have multiple trips in the running to be awarded this honour again. We’ve also received multiple TripAdvisor awards and are working to continually improve our trips.

We’re also proud of having been able to harness our reach in the study abroad community to donate to worthy causes. We’ve worked to raise money for THON in multiple years to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund to cure paediatric cancer, as well as to raise funds for a member of our team who was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Additionally, we’re currently developing a new role within the company devoted to sustainability and responsibility to ensure we continue to operate and promote sustainable tourism and contribute positively to our European communities.

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What are your future plans?

We’re working on opening more offices and increasing our marketing in more cities to bring more students across Europe on our trips. Every season, we create new trips and refine our itineraries to keep improving our product and offer the best trips to the best destinations.

Which trends and challenges do you see in the youth travel sector?

Today’s youth are growing up with instant access to information. When travelling, they expect the same standard. We are looking forward to more destination cities investing in free public WiFi enabling youth travellers to share their experience instantly.

Many of our passengers are new to travelling alone, and have expectations that we are constantly working to meet and exceed. As a demographic that has often never planned travel on their own, it’s important that we’re able to offer the best value package to anyone on a student budget.

We are constantly working to perfect our trips to offer the highest quality at the best price, as well as respond pro-actively by offering innovative promotions and harness the social media channels our target audience frequents to keep our marketing and trips engaging and current.

What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?

As a company made up largely of Americans living in Europe, we are passionate about integrating ourselves into communities of like-minded individuals and organizations, whether that is travel enthusiasts, tourism professionals, or, even better, an organisation like WYSE Travel Confederation that is committed to aiding in the development of the youth travel sector.

Any top tips for people starting out in the youth travel sector?

Be ready to constantly redefine and redevelop what your company offers and how it markets its products. Finding success with young travellers means always finding a way to offer what the ever-changing market is looking for, and being able to reach them in new ways as media and marketing continue to evolve.

Interested in becoming a WYSE member?

Membership with WYSE Travel Confederation can help position your organisation at the very heart of the global industry and promote your programmes at a local and an international level.

Become a member now to take advantage of our exclusive benefits and services for members – including a EUR 600 discount on WYSTC 2015 registration.