Do you only visit Greece in the summer? An Athens-based start up is on a mission to change that… and shake up the Greek tourism industry

Chania, Crete ~ a destination you may enjoy more outside of summer months…

Travel 12 is on a mission to change the way you experience Greece & revamp the Greek tourism industry

During the spring months, my Instagram begins to fire up with images anticipating all things Greek summer. Think Shipwreck Beach and Santorini sunsets. The Greek tourism industry has more or less promoted these images to death….

And with good reason, there’s nothing quite like Greek summer. The beaches, fresh fish, and nightlife all beckon. I’m as much a lover of Greek summer as most of you probably are, and am guilty of posting a few too many beautiful but not particularly interesting beach photos. But believe it or not, the endless scroll of blue and white becomes tired….

Not only because, well, it’s repetitive and occasionally uninspired. But because when you know there’s so much more to Greece than Instagram-bait on the beach, it feels a bit unfair.

Enter Travel 12. With an aim at fostering authentic travel experiences that attract people to visit Greece 12 months a year, the company is on a mission to revamp the Greek tourism industry.

The founders noticed there was a serious lack of information surrounding Greek tourism outside of the summer months, and especially outside the usual suspects (I raise you one Oia sunset photo). Their service – which, of course, also creates summer experiences – is designed to help you discover the rich history behind what you may simply pass off as “something to post on Instagram.” In addition to making Greece a destination twelve months a year, the company will help you craft a seamless, deeper travel experience. I know I’m tired of being led astray by the same things that come up in Google (thanks, SEO) and Trip Advisor. The experts at Travel 12 are here to change that with expert curation. Taking into account your specific needs (take their quiz, here!) you might discover a tucked-away, foodie spot in Chania, Christmas tradition, or your new favorite hiking trail. BONUS: you’re likely to be the first of your friends to share it.

DR talked with the company about their filoxenia, why you should visit Greece this winter, how you can have your most richly authentic Greek travel experience yet, and so much more. Read on to see how and why Travel 12 will change the Greek tourism industry… and maybe discover your new favorite spot in Greece.

Travel 12 is shaking up the tourism industry in Greece
Athens is full of hidden discoveries… all year long.

What are some common misconceptions you’ve noticed that people have about traveling in Greece?

I’d have to say that of Greece being a sunbathing destination. Summer in Greece is truly amazing, but what about the three other seasons? We are firm supporters of Greece being a great destination all-year round and aim in turning the spotlight towards autumn and spring for trips around the country and winter as a great opportunity for city-breaks.

Do you enjoy discovering off-the-beaten-path culture in Greece? Check out our guide to making the most of Athens this summer

I understand you’re building an algorithm to create completely personalized experiences. tell me a bit about the types of experiences you plan to curate for people?

Most of all we are building a network. A transparent one that sets out to link local providers in one platform. The algorithms will take into account each traveller’s profile and preferences and the system will spit out customized experiences for every individual. Then, dragging and dropping each element will allow the creation of an itinerary based entirely upon preferences. The experiences are quite diverse, in a sense that no traveler is the same. The difference lies in the way they are complementing each other to formulate a holistic experience that allows the traveler to enjoy a destination in the way that he/she likes.

beautiful Arachova covered in snow, image via Protothema.gr

What’s an underrated time of the year to visit Greece, and why?

I’d say autumn. Sometimes I feel there is too much pressure to like summer. Scroll your Instagram feed and you’ll see what I mean. Autumn, on the other hand, is so laid-back. The weather is still warm, you don’t have to sweat anything and the crowds are much thinner. Plus, all al fresco everything without worrying about SPF.

Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos Greece iconic blue water
Yes, this is a beautiful photo. No, this is not the only thing to visit in Greece. Image via KiteAdvisor

It seems the travel industry has undergone quite a bit of change in recent years thanks to tech, and younger travellers are seeking more “authentic experiences.” Do you agree?

By all means! Gone are the days when people used to visit Athens for example just to see the Acropolis. People want to feel what’s real, go where locals flock. It’s amazing actually. People visit Greece to harvest olives or pick oranges. They learn how to cook or how to make pottery from scratch. That’s the real deal. And it doesn’t exclude the Parthenon!

What’s new and/or exciting about the world of travel right now?

The fact that is constantly shifting and re-emerging. That there are endless possibilities out there and that traveling is now done in a more easy and spontaneous manner. Reasons for travelling are quite different from what they used to be. It’s not all about the leisure anymore. Take Athens for instance; It’s shaping up to be major art destination – and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it!

Zagori during the fall ~ image via A Greek Adventure

Tell me about one of your favourite places to visit in Greece. What about it makes it special? 

Now that’s a difficult choice to make! But since I recently visited Zagori, my memories are so fresh I can’t think of anything else. The place is a stone-built beauty! Such architectural uniformity, the blissful provincial life in full display, par excellence gastronomy and wine and blooming hydrangeas literally everywhere! I saw horses strolling the cobblestone streets, casually. I had coffee under massive sycamore trees and listened to owls sing at night. Talk about a lullaby! The alpine air is so fresh and rejuvenating. you get to sleep like a baby. I am now convinced I will be a repeater.

Discover Corfiot cuisine

Greece has a special filoxenia quite unlike anything else. How can a traveller in Greece, perhaps for the first time, tap into this? OR Any advice for having a more “local” experience?

Filoxenia is key. It suffices as a reason to visit Greece. It feels natural. In Greece, we tend to do it the more homey way. The traveller is a guest, our guest. So, guest satisfaction is our natural hosting duty and we take it seriously and personally. What people need to do is to put the shame away. Smile, talk, ask questions. Chances are you’ll end up with a bunch of new friends who know where the good and chilled cocktails are served.

Please note that Travel 12 is currently operating in its pilot version (the booking engine is still being built, but they do accept requests). They’re accepting request for 21/9/2017 onwards. They’re also giving a 10% off early bird discount!

Love this piece? Read our interview with und. Athens, who created the best guide to experience art, culture and all things alternative in the city.

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