Business in times of war: the view of Ukrainian businessman Anton Taranenko
Business in Ukraine is suffering unprecedentedly from the war. However, Ukrainians continue to stay afloat and even build and develop new businesses, achieving success in various fields. Among these entrepreneurs is Visit Ukraine CEO Anton Taranenko, who will talk about the challenges of war in business and how to motivate yourself in an extremely difficult time for the country
Ukraine is currently at war and experiencing geopolitical instability. However, even in such difficult times, Ukrainian entrepreneurs are finding ways to succeed and develop their businesses. One of these entrepreneurs is Anton Taranenko, CEO of Visit Ukraine and Visit World information portals. He is also the founder of ANTA Group.
The well-known Ukrainian businessman has been actively working in the field of Internet marketing for many years, has many years of experience in developing web projects and building effective promotion strategies. In this article, Anton Taranenko talks about himself, his history, and his motivation to start his own project even in today's realities.
Visit Ukraine: history and motivation
I have been promoting and popularizing Ukrainian tourism in the domestic and foreign markets since 2015. At first, I worked for four years at the Kyiv City Administration, heading the Department of Tourism and Promotion of Kyiv, whose main focus was the development of the capital as a tourist, cultural and investment destination. During the period of my work, we have raised the city quite well.
In general, I believe that 2018 and 2019 were the best periods for the city's development as a global center of tourism and culture.
Back then, Kyiv hosted the Eurovision Song Contest and the UEFA Champions League final. Large-scale projects were also launched, such as the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in Volodymyrska Hirka Park, the reconstruction of Andriyivskyi Descent, and the launch of tourist navigation in the city. All this was a big boost to the development of the tourism sector. New hotels were built in the capital, events were held, and establishments were opened.
It was during this period that the idea to create Visit Ukraine, a union of representatives of Ukraine's tourism transformation, was born.
In 2019, I left the civil service and decided to become more actively involved in this project. In a few years, Visit Ukraine has united almost all market players: the Ukrainian Hotel & Resort Association, Kyiv Tourism Association, and the Guild of Guides were created, tour operators were united, and an all-Ukrainian network of Tourist Information Centers was launched. We have become a link between the state and the tourism industry, the state and tourists, and the tourism industry and tourists.
The project was very active and developed. We held exhibition events, popularized Ukrainian tourism, and attracted foreign and Ukrainian tourists to travel around our country. We had quite ambitious plans until the COVID-19 epidemic started. After the quarantine was introduced, exhibitions and travel were no longer relevant, so it was a time of crisis for the project.
At first glance, quarantines, wars, and political instability seem to be negative factors for business development. However, I believe that it is important not to stop during such periods, but rather to find opportunities and use them to your advantage.
I see the challenges posed by the crisis as opportunities for innovation and the development of new markets.
And so it happened, in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, immediately after the first spring lockdown, we launched Visit Ukraine.today, an online portal that is now the main travel resource providing up-to-date information on the rules for entering Ukraine and traveling to 220 countries and territories of the world. We managed to collect the current rules for traveling to Ukraine for a citizen of any country in the world and provide similar information to Ukrainians. Then we began to monetize this project by selling insurance policies required for traveling abroad and, over time, added several other areas, such as ticket sales, tours, and hotel reservations.
The impact of the war on Visit Ukraine's operations
Until February 24, 2022, I believed that Visit Ukraine was wildly popular in terms of the number of visitors and profits. After all, the finances it provided were enough not only to develop the project, but also to engage in other business areas and invest.
The outbreak of the war was another big blow to the project. However, we were able to reorient ourselves again. A refugee assistance center was launched on the basis of the website. And if at the beginning of the war the portal was visited by 300,000 users per month, in the first year of the war their number increased to 1 million visitors. This is a large audience of people looking for information, services, and products that we sell on our website.
Of course, the project does not have the same profit as it had before the full-scale invasion, but still, at least now, it has reached self-sufficiency and is already starting to earn a little. To a large extent, this became possible because we have increased the number of destinations during this time: tours, tickets, and a large number of insurance products.
Today, Visit Ukraine is a leader in providing information about Ukraine's tourism potential.
Every day we publish a lot of articles with the latest news in tourism and travel. We also help people directly. We have a hotline that handles more than a thousand requests from foreigners and Ukrainians on various issues, including those related to tourism. Now we realize that the most important thing is Victory. And when it comes, we are confident that any industry, including tourism, will grow rapidly and gain momentum.
Tourism in Ukraine during and after the war: prospects and opportunities
Ukraine's tourism potential is very high. Now is the time to work and prepare everything so that when the war is over and thousands of foreign tourists come to Ukraine, they will see how incredible our country is.
Many tourist facilities are already under construction in Zakarpattia and the Carpathians, including new hotels and recreational complexes. If all this is created during the war, it is in demand. If there is a demand during the war, it will be huge afterward.
We can see from the statistics on our website that people are interested in tours, and not only foreigners. Domestic tourism is also developing quite actively. We also have a new sector emerging - memory tourism, which I think will also be very popular. Tours will take place in places where the aggressor committed direct crimes. We need to be careful about this and create routes together with the Institutes of Memory. Also, so-called press tours, i.e. visits to such locations by journalists, opinion leaders, and politicians, are quite popular today.
I predict that tens of millions of tourists will come to Ukraine after the war. It will be the same as it was before the pandemic, i.e. 15-16 million visitors a year, and this is very cool. That's why we are preparing for this, we have increased our team, the quality of our products, so that when the number of tourists entering Ukraine starts to increase rapidly, we will be ready and on our feet. And we became not only #1 in Ukraine by the number of visitors, but also by the number of clients.
The opportunities in Ukraine are very powerful - the development of the tourism, hotel, infrastructure, and investment segments in the tourism sector. There are opportunities and there will be even more.
How does Ukrainian business operate in times of war?
The war imposes certain restrictions on the business environment in Ukraine, including economic and political risks - it's a difficult situation, but at the same time, I see opportunities to adapt and find new market niches. I am actively working on developing my own business by creating unique content and cooperating with partners.
We have partners in almost every industry, including guides, tour guides, and hotels, whom we help to be successful. By popularizing their services, we promote Ukraine as a whole.
Our team highly appreciates this cooperation. Each partner benefits from our relationship, but they are not always material. You grow much faster when you have partners. You don't have to pull everything yourself. If you've created a cool resource and built traffic, you don't always need to create your own product, you can take, for example, an existing project in Affiliate programs and sell it, develop it, create a cool concept. In fact, you can become an agent of your partner. Visit Ukraine has such partners who sell our products.
It's worth remembering that any crisis is an opportunity, and even in war, you can create things that will be interesting and useful.
However, it is important to create products that help. The first thing you have to do is create a product that makes life better: a service for people that will provide information, make life easier, speed up purchases, and make them better and more qualitative. You don't need to think about how this product is going to enrich you at the first stages.
Most of our clients are first our visitors, users, and then they become our customers. That is, they first consume information, mostly for free, and then buy the product, so it is important to be customer-oriented and provide value.
Even in the difficult conditions of war, you can find your way to success and develop. If you have several businesses and they are concentrated in Ukraine and you are sure that they will work even if something happens, great. Work and earn money. If you see possible risks in the Ukrainian market, you should consider diversifying your capital. It may be better to reinvest some of the money or create a new business format in another country.
Investing in foreign real estate: everything you need to know.
Golden rules of investing: what to look for for successful investments.
See you on the Visit Ukraine website!
You may be interested in:
Visit Ukraine Donation - make a good deed and an important contribution to the Victory of Ukraine;
Visit Ukraine Legal advice - comprehensive legal support on entry to Ukraine;
Visit Ukraine Tours - the largest online database of tours to Ukraine for every taste;
Visit Ukraine Merch - choose patriotic clothing and accessories with worldwide delivery;
Visit Ukraine News - get the latest news and updates in our Telegram channel;
Cooperation - cooperation and advertising integrations with Visit Ukraine and Visit World projects.
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The simultaneous stay of visitors in the hotel lobby not more than one person per 10 square meters of serviceable area is allowed.
Persons can visit hotels and stay there (outside hotel room) only if they wear respirator or face mask (including homemade mask), so that the nose and mouth are covered.
Hotel guests are obliged to keep the 1.5 meters distance.
Online check-in making in advance is recommended to avoid queues at check-in to hotel.
Meals in hotels are provided through meals delivery service to rooms upon prior order or at hotel restaurants situated inside or in open areas, provided the distance of at least 1.5 meters between seats at adjacent tables.
Not more than 4 clients are allowed to stay at the table (excluding children under 14 years old). Unless these tables are separated by a special partition;
Self-serve is not allowed.