Bracap Global Tours, sustainable tourism in Europe
Bracap Global Tours is a European tour operator specialized in group travel born in 2008. The headquarters are in the city of Barcelona, where the team is based at CREC Coworking, and they have sales offices in both London and São Paulo. They are also members of ETOA, the main European trade association, which represents incoming international operators and their suppliers.
Joaquim Capdevila, Co-Founder and CEO of Bracap Global Tours, tells us more about the company and their experience during the COVID 19 pandemic that has affected the whole world in recent years.
“At Bracap we take everything into account. The environment is very important, but so is the treatment of workers”
What is Bracap?
Bracap is a travel agency specialized in groups. We are inbound, which means that we do not send clients abroad, but we receive them here. By here, I mean all over Europe. Most of our clients are English-speaking, they can be from the United States, Canada, England, Australia,…. So, the groups arrive at the destination, we go to pick them up, we look for the hotel, restaurants, guided tours,…. We make a complete travel itinerary. In addition, we customize each trip to make the experience even better. For example, if someone really likes soccer, we will take them to see an English Premier League match; if they like museums, we will take them to the best museums in the city,…
Therefore, it can be a cultural trip, a disconnection trip, a family trip,… There are many options. And this is what we have been doing at Bracap since 2008.
How did the pandemic affect you?
We used to have a big team at CREC Coworking, but it was reduced by the pandemic. The situation practically wiped us out, so we had time to rethink where we are going and what we need. Now, ‘thanks’ to the pandemic, we are working on 13 alternative projects at Bracap. Once settled, we’ll see which ones come to fruition and which ones don’t… But they’re all focused on how to improve the service we offer.
As a result of wanting to improve our service, projects have been emerging that have nothing to do with Bracap itself, but are different projects related to tourism and that have sustainability as a common link with Bracap.
How does Bracap approach sustainability in tourism?
In the field of sustainability there are three branches: environmental, social capital and human capital.
The environmental one is the one that gives you the ECO seals, the one that generates a balance between human beings and nature. The benefits of social capital are diverse, since you can collaborate and invest with NGOs that plant trees (for example) and benefit at the marketing level. But there is a third branch, human capital, which is related to a company’s employees. What are their working conditions, salaries, work-life balance, vacations…. For me, this is a very important branch, since I always make sure that my team is at ease, that they feel comfortable in their workplace,…. And for that there is no label that says: ‘I am sustainable’.
Imagine you are looking for a rental car company, and you want it to be sustainable. The question would be: which company is more sustainable, the one that has only electric cars that do not pollute or the one that takes care of its workers? A company can have the ECO seal and have its employees in precarious situations.
At Bracap we take everything into account. The environment is very important, but so is the treatment of workers. For example, we don’t have millions of euros in financing, but before investing what we have in an NGO or planting trees, we prefer to give our workers an incentive so that they are better off.
“The pandemic made us look like a phoenix. The pandemic killed us, almost annihilated us, but we endured and only where there is suffering there is development”
Can you tell us about any of the projects you mentioned earlier?
One of these projects is called ‘Kontamos‘, and we play with the name because this ‘Kontamos’ has different meanings for us: ‘Kontamos the degree of sustainability, Kontamos what is sustainability’.
Our goal is to put on the table that sustainability is not a fad, but that there are many people who work, and have worked hard for the common good.
In the world of tourism, it’s a bit complicated. How do I know if the itinerary I have prepared is sustainable? This is where our questionnaires help us. Our idea is that each hotel, museum, car rental company, restaurant, etc. has a QR code on which the customer has all the information about each establishment. Thus, in a quick way, it will be possible to observe the percentage of sustainability of each place in terms of environment, social capital and human capital.
The pandemic made us look like a phoenix. The pandemic killed us, almost annihilated us, but we endured and only where there is suffering there is development.
What do you think differentiates you from other companies?
First and foremost, we care about people. I care that my team and my client are well… For me they are not numbers. We invest time in creating digital itineraries so that clients have everything on their cell phones and can see at all times where they are, what they will visit the next day, where to eat…. It’s brutal.
The whole CREC Coworking team is very happy to see that companies that had a hard time during the pandemic manage to grow now. Do you think that being in a coworking helped you? Why?
Being in a coworking space helped us a lot. Carles told us: ‘Until you have income, you don’t pay. Until you have income, we adapt’. This allowed us to be able to continue here at CREC and not leave. Actually staying at CREC Coworking was a decision we made thanks to the proposal they made to us, otherwise we would have stayed teleworking from home.
The CREC Coworking team knew how to adapt to our problems and made the process much easier with the help they gave us.
In terms of connections, which would you say have been the most profitable for Bracap?
In terms of connections, there are professional and personal ones. With professionals I would say that I have worked very well with Pablo Gómez, from Waltex; and also with Creativa, a company that was in CREC.
What are Bracap’s future prospects?
Very good, but not only Bracap, but thanks to the pandemic we have formed a new company that works with projects to solve the needs that we detected in Bracap. I am happy because we have a very good and very powerful team.
So now, as a result of the pandemic, we have Bracap and we have a new company that at the moment has no workers and no activity, but it will have it. And when it does, CREC Coworking will know it.