I sat down with Hady Zaky in a classy little café in downtown Montreal and could tell right away, he was dying to talk about his brainchild. The enthusiasm seeped from every pore in his body, and I couldn’t help but get caught up in his energy. It was genuine and contagious. This man knows he is onto something, and couldn’t wait to tell the world about it.
So we started from the beginning.
QUESTION: What first gave you the idea of creating Retrigo?
HADY: It stemmed from my own personal experience, and the passions in my life. Like so many young people, I lead a very busy schedule. My wife and I were looking for something to do together, an activity we could share in and practice, as a break from work and our other obligations. Then we discovered Crossfit, and developed a real passion for it. We really love training together and competing side by side. Not only were we getting in shape and directing our energy in a productive place, but it actually strengthened our marriage too.
Then came vacation time that same year, and seeing as how we both adore travel and exploring new parts of the world, it became obvious that the ideal situation would be to combine all these dimensions into one. We instantly started looking for ways to travel and be able to practice physical activity, while still being able to relax away from home. It wasn’t long before we realized it was a struggle to find good options online, for this type of trip. We had made up our minds that we wanted a one-stop-shop where such a trip can be booked and coordinated by the same company, instead of having to plan and coordinate multiple components ourselves. But it just wasn’t out there.
QUESTION: So did you ever end up trying to plan such a trip yourselves?
HADY: Yes we did. In 2014 we took our love for Crossfit on the road, and went to California. Having researched various gyms ahead of time, we decided to visit 5 different cities and Crossfit-gym “hop” to experience the various different styles of training, as well as enjoy the sights and sounds of each town. In the end, that whole process was difficult to manage, and took lots of effort to coordinate.
After returning home, we started talking with friends who have similar interests and are also passionate about travel as well as physical fitness. They shared the same opinions and experiences with inadequate travel packages offered on the market. I put my “business hat” on and concluded there was a need for a new type of market space. That there’s a very large segment of the population who are underserved in their needs, and who would jump at the chance to book retreats like we offer today. Where we can bring “boutique retreats” (IE. small and locally owned) that offer trips which combine health, fitness, spiritual fulfillment, and relaxation in an exotic setting which also reconnects people with nature.
That’s when the lightbulb came on, and that was the inspiration for Retrigo.
QUESTION: What is the target audience for Retrigo?
HADY: Anyone who is interested in and motivated to improve their overall health, explore other parts of the world, and come back with the tools and new habits to improve their quality of life. You don’t need to be a master of yoga, surfing, kayaking, martial arts or any other discipline. Beginners are not only welcome, but they will be grouped together with the appropriate instructors, for the optimal experience at their own level. I don’t say it enough, but the bottom line should be fun!
There is no exclusion based on age, gender, social status, fitness level, or other criteria. If we end up attracting more of a certain demographic than others (as has already started to be the case) then we will work hard to accommodate that group as best as possible, while still making the experiences appealing and rewarding to everyone else.
QUESTION: Where did the name Retrigo come from?
HADY: It was inspired by the word for “retreat” in Esperanto, which is pronounced “retiriĝo”. Besides having synonyms like refuge, haven, sanctuary, hideaway, and escape… it is also an easy name to remember, with a connection to what we’re offering.
QUESTION: Why do you think Retrigo will be successful?
HADY: We believe in community. We believe in likeminded people coming together, and using their collective voice. The way we’re growing this company, it gets active ambitious people involved in our organization. At Retrigo, we conduct a lot of events to bring such people together (physically or virtually) and hear them out, so that we better understand our community’s needs. One such example is roundtable discussions. We’ve also created focus groups for surfers, yoga enthusiasts, meditation practitioners, martial artists, and others. We collect their opinions and use it as feedback, to constantly improve our services.
With this information, we can also screen and hand-pick a select group of Retreat Owners (which we affectionately call “Retrigers”). Those are the people who run the small, local establishments and make the experiences come to life, in many corners of the globe. We even went as far as creating a 50-point checklist of criteria to decide who we do business with. Among the top prerequisites, we find safety, facility readiness, and a verifiable hospitability track record.
QUESTION: What makes Retrigo different from its competitors?…Or, should I say, similar businesses?
HADY: For starters, there’s no other website that brings the different types of health and wellness retreats together in one place like Retrigo does. There are some who will offer yoga only, or hiking only, for example… but they are very limited in their offering.
Second, the other companies don’t do the transaction processing, handle the booking arrangements, and communicate with the Retreat Owners all under one roof. Retrigo does. It all happens beginning with a quick and easy purchase our customer makes right on our own user-friendly website.
Third, that 50-point selection criteria before taking on a new partner company and posting their retreats on our site. We will deal only with the very best Operators. No one else is doing this the way we are.
Next, something huge which will be launched this September. A customizable “build your own retreat” tool which puts the power of choice in the traveler’s hands will be another major differentiator. The way Retrigo is (and will be) set up will truly revolutionize the travel industry.
QUESTION: What is the plan for Retrigo’s future?
HADY: Well, to elaborate on that last point, we’ll be creating a whole new unique marketplace where the traveler chooses their own destination, activities, and even tour operator. In other words, create their own dream getaway with the help of 2 service providers working together (Retrigo plus the Retreat Owner), as well as access to smaller retreats and destinations which they would never find on their own. That’s how we’ll be benefitting our customers.
To give opportunities to smaller companies which don’t already have the size or resources to market themselves internationally and attract people on the other side of the world. That’s how we’ll be benefitting the international business community, while still providing ourselves with a broader inventory.
Expand Retrigo’s operations into several more countries, by gradually conducting key acquisitions of smaller complementary companies. This will not only grow our network geographically, but allow us to operate more of OUR OWN retreats, making the fulfillment process even more seamless for the end-user. We foresee several new destinations in the Americas, with a focus on Latin America as the first major region to expand into.
QUESTION: So later this year, if I am a spirited traveler interested in your services, what can I look forward to?
HADY: To put it differently, the next phase of Retrigo will be as follows: You visit www.retrigo.com with a certain plan in mind, gives us a laundry list of desired activities, choose from among possible destinations (among many more than are currently listed) and fix your budget. We will then work to create a tailor-made retreat experience. This will be as close to “totally customizable” as humanly possible. It’ll open up a whole new dimension of retreat vacations which doesn’t currently exist, making sure that sophisticated customers (with specific needs and desires) get only the very best, which they certainly deserve.
Although too modest to talk about himself, I came to learn that Hady Zaky is a very cultured and experienced traveler who speaks 4 languages, holds multiple University degrees, has 15 years of Project Management experience and is a seasoned entrepreneur. He has also assembled a very dynamic team which runs Retrigo behind the scenes, with impressive credentials and an international flavour.
Clearly there will be more exciting news and further detail to come in the future, as this fast-growing enterprise takes flight. For the time being, we know for sure there is a vision, and the sky’s the limit.