Sunday 2 June 2019

AD | Interview with a CEO: SpareFare's Galena Stavreva reveals all

If you know me, or you just read my blog, then you must know I love to travel - it's pretty much what I live for, and it's what most of my spare money goes on. And travelling can be expensive. But Galena Stavreva wants to change that, and she has a trick up her sleeve to show you how you can get brilliant holidays on a smaller budget or simply recover the costs of cancelled holidays...

Can you sum up SpareFare in just one sentence?

Secondary travel marketplace – like Stubhub for travel, but secure and without the ticket touts.

What gave you the idea to start SpareFare?

I started my career as a corporate solicitor in the city of London, working for a busy American law firm. I had to cancel a few holidays due to work commitments and could not find anyone to sell my flights and hotel reservations to. None of my friends wanted the tickets and there wasn’t a scam-free marketplace I could sell them on. I saw the need for a trustworthy service which gives people the chance to resell their travel reservations. So I created SpareFare with two other co-founders.

Where do you see SpareFare in 5 years time?

Millions of people lose money on their unused travel bookings every year because they are not aware of any safe and hassle-free ways to resell their reservations. SpareFare will create a new type of shared economy in travel. In 5 years, I want everyone to be aware that they can resell their travel reservations to other people, and for SpareFare to be the go-to site for everyone looking for a cheap holiday, flight or a hotel room. I want to enable millions of people every year to travel cheaply and see more of our amazing world. I want to help everyone who is not able to travel recoup at least some of the money they spent on their holidays, making travel more affordable for everyone.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced launching SpareFare?

Educating the market! A lot of people are still not aware that a lot of non-refundable flights and all hotel reservations are transferable. People just see “non-refundable” written on the reservation and simply give up. Actually, many airlines and hotels allow their customers to change the name of the passenger, which means that the reservation can be sold to another traveller and the seller can recover at least some of the money they paid for their holiday. Not all airlines allow name changes, but a lot of them do. We have compiled a list of over 60 airlines on our website. These are mainly European low-cost carriers. The airlines charge a name change fee, and these vary between £25 and £115. Hotels are easier to transfer. I have yet to see a hotel refusing to change the name of the main guest under a reservation. Hotels do not charge name change fees either, so sellers are able to recover a bigger percentage of their holiday cost.

As an avid traveller yourself, where’s your favourite place to travel to?

Thailand is my favourite destination by far. I live in London and sunny, warm places with a beach are my favourite getaway destinations.  I’ve been to many exotic places, lots of islands in the Caribbean, Bali – you name it. But my trip to Thailand has been the most memorable so far and I want to go back for more. It was a perfect balance between good weather, beautiful nature, delicious food, nice people, variety of activities to do and places to visit and also value for money. What more can you want!

And what’s your dream destination?

I have not been to Australia yet, so that’s next on my bucket list!

What other jobs did you have before starting SpareFare?

I am a UK-qualified solicitor and used to work for a law firm specialising in corporate law.

If you could give other travel-lovers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Travel as much as you can. That’s the only thing you spend money on that actually makes you richer. Speak with the local people. Ask them about their life – what makes it good, what are their struggles. Are they happy? What’s their biggest goal? Talking to people from different cultures has given me an amazing perspective on my life. The people from the poorest regions usually tell me that they are happiest. This just shows that our pursuit for ‘things’ and luxuries has not made us any happier. I once spoke with a young man working at a coffee plantation in Bali about his biggest dream, and he said it was to fly to London to see his favourite football team play. With his current salary, he would have had to work for 10 years to save enough for the trip. At that moment, all my ‘issues’ seemed so insignificant.

Finally, let us know where we can find you, and SpareFare, online!

You can find many holiday bargains on our site

Huge thanks to Galena for chatting with me about SpareFare - it's such an amazing way to get some of the cost back for your holiday if you have to cancel last minute, and Galena has definitely filled a gap in the market. I know I'll be using SpareFare in the future if I need to recover the money from a cancelled holiday, or just to find some budget trips!

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  1. This is suuuuch a good idea - why didn't I know this was a thing?! I know so many people that have ended up cancelling trips without getting any money back!

    Becca x / becc4

  2. I had no idea this was a thing! I had to cancel a holiday earlier this year and wasn't able to get any of the money back (despite having insurance). I'll definitely consider using this in the future now I'm aware.

  3. Such a fab post, I'd love to go travelling more and take Ru as I think it's so educational x

    Gemma Louise

  4. Ooooo this is such a fab post!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

  5. Great post. I can't afford to travel right now with 3 boys in tow. Hopefully in the future but I will keep SpareFare in mind! x

    Lauren |

  6. Definetely going to bare this mind when I travel again x

  7. This is such a brilliant idea! I never thought about transferring flights.

  8. This was so interesting to read, some great tips too x

  9. Will definitely bare this in mind the next time I plan a trip! Xx

  10. I didn't know this was a thing, what a great idea!