John-Christian Moquette was born in Toronto, Canada to a Greek mother and a Dutch-Canadian father. Geneva, Switzerland was home from a young age and provided the perfect base for jetting around the world. He studied Law in the UK but his passion for travel quickly led him to the travel sector.
He began his career working for a yacht chartering company. However it was not long before he got the entrepreneurial itch and left to set up his first company, Peritas International, a travel concierge company that offers yacht charters, jet charters and villa rentals. While sourcing jets and yachts for his clients was relatively seamless and could be done efficiently and professionally, he became increasingly frustrated with the process for searching and sourcing legitimate holiday rentals. But rather than withdraw property rentals from Peritas’ offering, he proposed developing a new business: a one-stop shop for travel professionals looking for city apartments, villas, chalets and holiday homes across the globe. He brought on 3 other partners, all with complementary skills and experience, and in December 2011 www.iavra.com was launched. The B2B platform currently has 3900+ properties across 49 countries and the portfolios continue to grow. JC was recently chosen as one of the top 30 Travel Leaders under 30 by TTG.
What is it that you do exactly?
My morning usually starts by putting together a brief report of the site activity from the last 24 hours. I then discuss the activity with the partners to see if there is anything noteworthy. For instance if we see that there have been searches for a region that we could be covering better, we discuss a strategy to source these properties for our clients. Because we do not get involved in the actual rental transaction and contact is made directly between agents on the site, this is a great way for us to monitor our clients’ activity and ensure that we are providing a product that services all of their rental needs.
I am responsible for all legal matters and managing the budgets. On a typical day I will go over the previous week/month’s spending to make sure that we are on target and look to see if there are any places where we can reduce costs. But most of my time is spent working with the Sales Team on lead generation strategies. I also work closely with the Marketing Team to find creative ways of engaging international markets and agents that may not already be working in the rental space.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love interacting and brainstorming with the team to find ways to improve the business, come up with innovative features to improve the user experience on the site, and identify creative marketing tactics that will help us access new clients. We are on a mission to deliver the best product on the market and our long-term aspirations for the business extend well beyond that of the platform. We want to establish IAVRA as the trade standard for holiday rentals internationally; organizing conferences and workshops so that the industry players have a place to share ideas and make decisions on how best to organize, regulate and make the most of offering rentals.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
For a family reunion a few years ago, my family and I stayed in a beautiful villa outside of Florence. The villa had recently been renovated and was fully staffed with an amazing Italian chef. We had the privacy and conveniences of a villa while still having the services of a hotel. It was quintessential Italian luxury at its best.
The Anantara Hotel in Chang Rai, Thailand is one of my favourite stays. The hotel’s setting is idyllic, perched on a hilltop with panoramic views over the surrounding jungle. From my polished concrete bath I looked out at the lush green landscape. Stunning rooms and incomparable service that Thailand is known for.
On a trip through India, I found myself on the little known beach of Gokarna. On arrival I expected to only stay one night. The friendly atmosphere of this place as well as the price tag (the equivalent of 25 pence per night) meant that I stayed 7 nights! I made some lifelong friends there and had some magical evenings under the stars chatting till the early morning eating the best banoffee pie I had ever had.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
It’s so difficult to pick just one! I suppose one that comes to mind is Matsuhisa in Athens. Eating delicious Nobu black cod and rock shrimp tempura with one of the most spectacular views in Greece looking over the sea across the bay. Absolutely breathtaking.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
I recently spent a week at the Palace Merano Espace Henri Chenot in Merano, Italy. This detox clinic established and run by Henri Chenot is where the rich and famous go to cleanse, detox or even just lose some extra kilos. Despite the fact that you are on an organic vegetarian diet of just 500 calories per day, you are still served 3 course meals and rarely feel hungry. Henri Chenot is very popular with footballers and during our stay Cristiano Ronaldo was there for his yearly treatment with his beautiful model girlfriend. He was very friendly and even took a photo with my two month old niece.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
On a recent trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours in Vienna. I was awestruck by the city’s beauty and would love to go back and spend a weekend seeing the sites and sounds. Not to mention the fact that there is nothing I love more than a Viennese schnitzel.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, John-Christian. It sounds like travel has always been a big part of your life that it’s perhaps little surprise that you found yourself working in the industry too.