Excite celebrates ahead of American assault

Excite Holidays has marked its 15th anniversary with news it will make a concerted push into the US market — just the latest stage in an ambitious plan to become a “global behemoth” among wholesalers.

At a celebration in the company’s Sydney headquarters last month, Excite’s founders George Papaioannou and Nicholas Stavropoulos revealed they had signed agreements with several of the larger retail consortia in the US and were ready to make their debut on American soil.

Sales representatives have been engaged on both the east and west coasts of the US, and a launch party is planned in West Hollywood at the end of this month.

It’s a far cry from the days when Papaioannou and Stavropoulos were working alone as a start-up, something they pondered among industry friends at last month’s Sydney bash.

“We were reflecting on a 15-year overnight success,” Stavropoulos said, “because it just feels like it’s gone so fast.”

The duo began in 2002, having decided to establish a travel venture with a foundation in technology. It was the early days of the internet when there were few wholesale booking engines in Australia. It was also a time when printed brochures were associated with huge production costs.

 

The pair settled on an online model with its reduced costs and scalable potential, drawing on the experience of early adopters overseas and applying it with their own expertise to the Australian market.

“We started with absolutely huge dreams,” Stavropoulos said. “We’ve always been big thinkers.

“We’re growing extremely rapidly. We own our own technology, and we’re extremely proud of that, and we’re moving into different channels of business and of distribution.”

Having since expanded into New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Stavropoulos sees the company’s US debut as a natural progression in an initial strategy to cover the world’s major English-speaking markets.

 

From the US, Excite plans to expand almost immediately into Canada and is also considering markets such as South Africa.

“I believe we’re just getting started. I believe that we’ve spent the last 15 years gaining a little bit of momentum and now the ball’s really rolling down the hill. Things are about to absolutely explode for Excite Holidays,” Stavropoulos said.

“So, it’s really exciting times, but the vision was always a huge behemoth of a global business.”

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