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eDreams Group establishes a technology hub in the center of Porto
28 October 2021
eDreams Group establishes a technology hub in the center of Porto
ECO

The online travel giant has just opened its first office in Portugal, starting the operation with 25 people in downtown Porto and opening a hundred positions in the areas of technology and product.

The eDreams Odigeo group, one of the biggest in the world in the online travel sector, leased an office with 845 square meters on the fourth floor of Trindade Domus, a real estate development that combines retail and offices, to install the technological development center in the center of Porto.

Open since the beginning of October, the engineering hub in Portugal starts with a team of 25 people. In an interview with ECO, the executive president, Dana Philip Dunne, said that the company has "around one hundred open positions in Europe” – it also has centers in Barcelona, Madrid and Milan – and hopes to "place a large portion of them” in Invicta.

These vacancies for the technology and product innovation departments "will be open until they are filled”, but the Spanish-born group leader hopes to "open many more” in the near future. "We have room to have significantly more people here. However, if there is a dramatic growth [of employees in Porto], we will expand to other locations in the city”, he assured.

In this building with seven floors above ground and three in the basement, located at the back of Porto City Hall, eDreams has other reference companies as neighbors, such as the French multinational Armatis. Inaugurated in 2008, Trindade Domus was abandoned for several years before being converted into a business centre, having been purchased in August 2020 by Finangeste – the first Portuguese "bad bank” – and by an institutional investor based in the United Kingdom, for 40.5 million euros.

Without quantifying the investment made in Portugal – "we do not own hotels, rent-a-cars or planes; we are a technology company that invests in people to build products, services and experiences for consumers" - stressed the manager born in New York, who until 2011 was the commercial director of Easyjet. He explained that, "with time", the Portuguese team will "gravitate into certain areas of expertise – and this will depend on individual desire and the needs of the company”

Listed on the Madrid stock exchange and with origins dating back to 1999, eDreams Odigeo resulted from a merger with Go Voyages and the acquisition of Opodo, carried out in June 2011. Together with Travellink travel agency and Liligo search engine, these brands have more than 17 million customers a year and are present in 45 markets, providing offers on flights, hotels, cruises, rent-a-car, vacation packages and insurance.

Listed on the Madrid stock exchange and with origins dating back to 1999, eDreams Odigeo resulted from a merger with Go Voyages and acquisition of Opodo, carried out in June 2011. Together with Travellink travel agency and Liligo search engine, these brands have more than 17 million customers per year in 45 markets, providing offers on flights, hotels, cruises, rent-a-car, vacation packages and insurance.

eDreams is the only online platform of the group that is present in the Portuguese market. Don't they plan on bringing the others to Portugal? "I can't say never, but we have no plans, for now, to do so. The eDreams brand is so well known in this country. If we go to other countries, for historical reasons, other brands are stronger and that's why we keep them”, replied Dana Philip Dunne.

Buzz on technology and attractive to foreigners

Despite only now betting on its own space and building a bigger team in Portugal, for a year and a half the group based in Barcelona has had people working from here. The decision to open a technology hub in Portugal was taken at the beginning of 2020, it even had a coworking space reserved at the Lionesa Business Center, in Matosinhos, but the arrival of the pandemic ended up slowing down the pace of expansion.

As CEO since 2015, Dana Philip Dunne spoke to the ECO of "a combination of reasons” for choosing Porto. Starting with the fact that it is "a truly attractive place” to be able to receive foreign staff – 5 of the 25 in the initial team – and "with a buzz in technology, with a good tech community and good technological infrastructure”. "It is a vibrant and cool city, aligned with our values”, he added.

And he refuses to be experiencing difficulties in contracting this type of profile, despite the strong competition. "We are a unique company. We are really breaking the travel paradigm, reinventing it for the consumer. People want to be associated with the best”, justified the manager. Unlike "most travel companies”, eDreams Odigeo "did not [go] to ask for money from the banks or shareholders” and did not make any dismissal during the pandemic.

"This is very rare. We are very different from other companies in this sector. We focus on continuing to build good products and experiences for consumers during the pandemic, to try to fulfill their expectations, preparing for this phase of resumption of travel. The results until the end of August show that we are 27% above the pre-pandemic level [compared to 2019]. Tell me about another company in the travel sector that has already reached these values”, challenged Dunne.

With close to 1,000 employees of 46 nationalities in the offices in Barcelona, Madrid, Porto, Paris, Milan, Hamburg, Budapest and London, the CEO even maintains that two of the trends that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic "fit exactly in the business" of eDreams. On the one hand, with 40% of trips still to be booked offline, "many people have become more comfortable with online shopping”. On the other hand, "mobile accelerated”, which is in line with the performance of the group, that already has half of the reservations made through mobile devices.

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