Candice Georgiadis
Aug 13 · 8 min read

As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Galena Stavreva, the CEO of SpareFare.net. SpareFare is a secure secondary marketplace for flights, hotel rooms and package holidays. Travel is great, and SpareFare’s marketplace is all about turning the less fun parts of it — such as cancellations — into new deals that improve the status quo for everyone.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started my career as a corporate solicitor in London, working for a busy American law firm. I had to cancel several holidays due to work commitments and was unable to find anyone to sell my flight and hotel reservations to.

I saw the need for a reliable platform that provides the opportunity for people to resell their travel reservations. So I created SpareFare with two other co-founders.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The most interesting story is about one of our first sales. The seller’s name is Rob, and he is from London.

Rob had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was left with a £3,000 romantic holiday in a five-star resort in Spain. He’d bought the romantic package, complete with silky sheets and couples massages. Rob couldn’t take his mom or sister on a vacation like this, and his male friends refused to go.

Luckily, he was able to sell the flights and hotel to a couple who’d recently gotten married but were unable to afford a fancy honeymoon.

It was a total win-win situation. Rob was able to save money and receive good karma by helping a fellow traveller along the way. The newlyweds were able to go on an amazing trip. I felt like, by providing this service and platform, I was able to make a tangible difference in the lives of three people. For the first time in my life, my job had a real purpose.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It doesn’t matter what you want; it matters what the customer wants! When we started SpareFare we researched everything so thoroughly. We checked all terms and conditions of all airlines, calculated all possibilities and all variables. Being a lawyer, I needed to know everything from the start. And I thought that users would want to know all of that, too. I was wrong — people wanted to sell their flight as quickly as possible, ideally without reading too much information! This taught me to do user testing at the beginning for every little change we introduce. We all make mistakes, but what separates the great entrepreneurs from the mediocre ones is that the great ones don’t repeat the same mistakes. So I am trying not to repeat that mistake again! Instead, I’ll go on to making new mistakes.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

At SpareFare, we believe that no experience should go wasted. So, we try to salvage all holidays, flights and hotel stays which would go unused otherwise. I am a great proponent of reducing and eliminating waste where possible. I always bring a bag with me when I shop to avoid using a new plastic bag every time. I squeeze every last bit of lotion or shampoo by unscrewing the cap or cutting through the container with scissors. And the thing with annoys my husband most — I add water to the last few drops of hand soap to make sure we’ve used as much of it as possible.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

There is no magic trick which will stop someone from burning out. You have to work less, sleep more, and give fewer f*cks. When you are just starting out everything seems very important and extremely urgent. In retrospect, it rarely ever is. Learning how to prioritize is important, but even more so is learning how to say “no” to new ideas which do not contribute directly to your main goals and meetings which waste your time.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

SpareFare.net connects people who have bought flights, holiday packages or hotel rooms but can no longer use them, with people seeking discounted travel options. By transferring their booked non-refundable reservations to SpareFare buyers, sellers can partially or fully recover the money paid for the trips, while buyers get a true discount of up to 50–60% of the original price. We offer fraud protection for both the buyers and the sellers.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

Millions of people lose money on their unused travel bookings every year because they are not aware of any safe and hassle-free ways to resell their reservations. Unfortunately, many people are still not aware that many non-refundable flights and all hotel reservations are transferable. We see the ‘non-refundable’ on our tickets and assume we have no other option.

In reality, many airlines and hotels allow their customers to change the name of the passenger so that the reservation can be sold to another traveller, and the seller will be able to recover some of the money.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

We are on a mission to make things better for the traveller and to create a new type of shared economy in travel. SpareFare turns many non-refundable reservations into refundable ones! This makes travelling cheaper for everyone. The sellers are able to recover some of the cost of their reservations, making cancelled trips less of a hassle. And buyers have a whole new supply of genuinely discounted holiday bargains. Travel providers like hotels and airlines can also take advantage of the secondary market from improved customer satisfaction, occupancy rates and increased revenues. It truly is a win-win situation for everyone.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

Travel is about rejuvenation, adventure, fulfillment, learning new skills, and ‘being more of who you are.’ It is no longer just ticking off places and things and flopping in the sun. The tourism industry needs to start offering more complete experiences and to focus on promoting responsible tourism which helps local people, and protects the environment. Along with enjoying paradise, you can learn about the poverty the local people live in, and be educated about ways you can help. I also think that more and more travel providers will start allowing name changes for their reservations, so that their users can sell them on if they can’t go. Travellers are starting to expect this service as part of the good customer service experience.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

I have been very fortunate to go on a lot of trips to different countries. My perfect vacation is somewhere hot with a mix of lazy days on the beach, adventures and talking to local people to learn more about their way of life.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe that helping other people is the best way to stay happy. Right now I am time-poor, unfortunately, but I am able to support some of my favorite charities with regular monthly donations. I support two animal charities which help stray dogs, a wonderful organisation called 1% Change which brings positive change to many people’s lives and Unicef.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Loneliness is a big problem affecting many people in society and with far-reaching physical and mental implications. There are some groups of people who are more likely to be affected than others and I have always though that these groups can help each other if someone can help them to get started. Elderly people can teach kids without parents how to read and write. Orphanages still exist in many countries, and these kids do not receive much individual attention or love. The older people will gain just as much as they will give. There are dogs in shelters in desperate need for walks, socialising and a little love. The same elderly people and children can literally transform a dog’s life if someone arranges transport to the shelter for them. And the dogs will give them so much love and affection in return. Other people who also feel lonely and cut-off from society would be welcome to join in the activities. Connecting the right groups of people and organising something very simple for them seems to me like a very easy way to positively impact the lives of many people.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can stay up-to-date with our deeply discounted holidays and free giveaways by searching SpareFare on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Candice Georgiadis

Written by

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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