Vidviday – best tour operator of Ukraine 2020
In 2020, according to the results of the Ukraine Tourism Awards 2020, Vidviday Tour Operator was recognized as the best in Ukraine. The largest number of tourists voted for us, and together with the points from the jury, we took honorable first place.
The road to this victory was long, 12 years. All this time we were expanding both our team and our horizons. Today, Vidviday is a large team of professionals who run tours and excursions throughout Ukraine.
The title of ‘Best Tour Operator of Ukraine’ is an indicator that our fruitful work was not in vain. We are grateful to the organizers of the Ukraine Tourism Awards 2020 for this great opportunity to prove ourselves, and many thanks to our tourists who voted for us in the competition.
A treasure map and two daydreamers
The history of the Vidviday tour operator began in 2008. Its founder Ihor Hubilit worked as a lecturer at the Department of Power Stations of Lviv Polytechnic University, and among his many interests was the organization of balls. One day, while attending a Viennese ball, he was presented with a beautiful and free map of Vienna.
The young man then came up with an idea to make a similar tourist map of Lviv. An occasion for this was also provided – in 2006 the city celebrated 750 year anniversary, so, with the support of the city authorities, Ihor issued a free map with a circulation of over 100 thousand.
The project was so successful that Hubilit decided to publish this map twice a year. Sometimes tourists asked where else to go, besides Lviv, then Ihor decided to also issue a tourist map of the Lviv region. The Department of Tourism of the Lviv Regional State Administration supported this idea, and the “Large-Circulation Map of the Lviv Region” has been published.
While working on this map, Ihor was impressed by the huge number of monuments in the region and the fact that almost nothing is known about them to Ukrainians, who sometimes travel miles and miles away, but do not know and do not respect their own landmarks. Then he had the idea to organize one-day excursions to see his native land and show it to others. Thus, in one night in the kitchen of the dormitory of Lviv Polytechnic appeared the first 10 one-day trips in the Lviv region.
In order to organize the work to the highest standard, Ihor Hubilit invited a student of the Faculty of Electronics of Lviv National University Yurii Pyrch, who at that time had organized two cycling tours in the Galicia region and was familiar with the sights that Ihor had marked on the maps. Yurii was responsible for marketing, and Ihor planned tours, described them, selected names and illustrations. To make the project look more presentable, they decided to submit it as an initiative of the public organization “Horseshoe” and the Institute of Public Leadership, which were led by Ihor.
The first trip was called ‘Following the paths of the Belz principality’ and took place on October 25, 2008 – so this day is considered the birthday of the Lviv tour operator Vidvidya. Ihor and Yurii gathered 42 tourists – almost a full big bus of people desiring to see the unknown sights of the Sokal region.
It was a big surprise that after paying all the expenses of the tour there was still money left, because the organizers clearly did not consider tourism as a profitable business, but rather as a hobby. After the trip, tourists were also satisfied and wanted to see other places too.
The next journey took place a month later and was called “The Ways of Pinzel and Fredr”. This route passed through Komarno, Shchyrets, Godovytsia, Obroshino, and 49 tourists participated in it. It was especially gratifying that when the tourist bus arrived, the locals came out of their houses and asked “Skąd jesteście?” (in Polish “where are you from?”). They could not believe that Ukrainians came to see the old churches, cathedrals, and castle ruins, because before only Polish tourists came by big buses.
The next trip was in February 2009 on Valentine’s Day with the destination in Sambir. Tourists did not fit in one large bus, so the organizers had to order two. This success was noticed in the tourist environment of Lviv, many were surprised by the large number of people willing to travel in the Lviv region. And all this happened against the backdrop of the financial crisis of 2008 when tourists largely stopped traveling abroad because the Ukrainian hryvnia depreciated twice. Officials of the Lviv Region State administration called and commended the young men saying, “Well-done guys, but it would be nice to formalize your activities, obtain a license because other travel companies are complaining that some unknown people are transporting tourists without a license.”
An acquaintance had a registered company with a tour operator’s license in Lviv. As this was not his main business, he sold his enterprise “Krylos Com” to Ihor and Yurii, as well as to their friend Taras Dorosh, who also successfully began to develop and is still developing his tourism project ‘Youth Tourism’. Thus, two trademarks and two teams appeared under one legal entity.
Rain on the parade
Along with a good start and rapid success, arose some difficulties. In the spring of 2009, the variety of tours increased, but the number of tourists did not grow much. Sometimes the buses traveled half-empty, and the trips became unprofitable.
The company did not have an office at that time, so tourists booked tours by phone, without a down payment. Sometimes there was confusion with the lists of participants or people did not show up at the last minute, especially when the weather got worse. So the young men started taking a deposit, but people were careful to give them money because the money was taken in the city center near the monument to Taras Shevchenko. Later, the travel agency rented a small room in the Lviv Hotel.
Unable to purchase legal software, the team began using free Linux. This was a strategically right decision because the employees of Vidviday still use this trouble-free operating system in their work.
Despite the problems, Ihor and Yurii believed that domestic tourism in Ukraine can be successful. One day an employee of a friendly travel agency asked Ihor what commission they could give for their tourists if they take them on a tour. This question surprised the founder because he did not know that there are travel agents who do not create tours themselves but sell the products of tour operators for a commission.
They decided to try to take tourists from travel agents, and the experiment was successful and everyone was satisfied. In the next two weeks, the young men visited all the travel agencies in Lviv with offers to become travel agents of Vidviday. Within a month, tour sales doubled, which allowed the organizers to believe even more in the success of their business.
The first trips didn’t always go smooth either: not all the roads marked on the maps and in Google are suitable for travel, so it was necessary to know exactly where to go and what is the condition of the road. It was difficult to find contacts of responsible people in the right places; hotels and restaurants did not always provide the necessary quality services.
Vidviday has many funny and sometimes sad stories on this topic, so we apologize to the tourists-pioneers, together with whom we learned by trial and error. However, over time, trip over a trip, the travel service was refined and became more perfect and much more comfortable for tourists. Now employees of Vidviday are the best connoisseurs of tourist places of Ukraine, especially in its western part.
Take me on a trip
The founders of the travel agency also faced a lack of professional guides. Excursions and tours were exclusive and very often happened in places where organized groups of tourists had not traveled before. It was very difficult to find guides in such places, they were not always well qualified, so Ihor and Yurii had to prepare on their own, and involved local historians in their excursions.
Once the founders needed someone to provide information about the church in the village of Kuhaiv, and the director of the museum in Vovkov Natalia Smolyana recommended the local historian Mykola Maidansky. He offered to go with the group and tell the information on the spot. Ihor and Yurii, as usual, planned to lead the tour taking turns, but Mykola Maidansky asked for a microphone to tell a few words about a forest on the way out of Lviv. Since then, he hadn’t stopped talking, and the organizers were extremely happy to have found such a unique person. Today, the founders of the company, and especially tourists are very fond of this man of encyclopedic knowledge.
The volume of work increased significantly, so there was a catastrophic shortage of guides, and the guides present sometimes told totally opposite information. Therefore, in 2012 we decided to organize our own travel guide courses. Since then, courses are held annually for various tourist destinations for which Vidviday needs guides the most. Anyone can study there for a small fee.
Training is quite difficult, each lesson is followed by tests, half of the study time is devoted to the study of traffic information, and the other – to training on communication, public speaking and first aid. Usually, no more than 30% of students complete the courses, but this allows Vidviday to gather the best team of their own guides. Courses take place every year, and everyone can challenge themselves and find the job of their dreams. The Hero of the Heavenly Hundred, Bohdan Solchanyk, who was a wonderful guide and was appreciated by many tourists of different ages from different parts of Ukraine, also graduated them.
Each guide is first and foremost a bright personality. Tens of thousands of people have already traveled with the favorite of tourists Lesyk Olesyuk, historian Andrii Pilinkevych, always smiling Iryna Klymko, eternal rebel and gentleman Liubomyr Vorobii, Ph.D. in history Petro Chornii, Anna Dzyubinska, Taras Fedus, Khrystyna Protsyshyn…
The work expanded, so the team was joined by the graduates of the Faculty of History of Lviv University Andrii Shevtsiv and Marichka Mykhaylius, a graduate of Lviv Institute of Economy and Tourism Khrystyna Chornii, and later Vasylyna Kyshenyuk, Veronika Patek, Zoryana Makohonska, Yuliia Nedzvetska who significantly strengthened and improved the work of the company.
In early 2012, Yuriy Pyrch decided to start his own project – a travel company “Time To Travel”, which successfully existed until 2017. He now works in the field of internet marketing, helping small and medium-sized businesses to reach new levels of development.
In 2014, Ihor Hubilit independently registered “Vidviday” Ltd., obtained a tour operator’s license, as well as the trademark “Vidviday”.
Expanding our horizons
Over time, the number of employees increased so much that we had to rent another large room in Lviv hotel, and in 2016, Vidviday moved to its own large office on the Zamarstynivska Str., 34, where the company is based today.
Since 2016 and until now, due to the decision of the Ukrainian government, the biggest problem for the tour operator is the ban on importing to Ukraine buses below Euro-5 class, which has led to a significant reduction in the number of quality buses, and for us – to a reduction in the number of potential tourists. The company’s specialists estimated that with a larger number of tourist buses, the number of tourists could be increased by 30-40%, and this means new jobs, both at the company and in different parts of Ukraine.
However, despite all the difficulties, we provide our tourists with comfortable buses, which we rent from reliable and permanent carriers.
To control the quality of service, all tourists at the end of the tour fill out questionnaires, based on which the company selects the best guides, accommodation, meals, and tourist attractions. You can also leave feedback on the Vidviday website and on social networks.
Anyone can work in Vidviday. The main thing is that the candidates share our values, namely: professionalism, mutual assistance, initiative, ethics, patriotism, tolerance, preservation of natural, historical and cultural monuments.
The Vidviday team is thinking about its future and therefore at strategic sessions has developed a strategy for development and activities for the next 20 years. For Vidviday, in addition to the success of the business, charitable activities are also important. The company tries to contribute to various charitable activities.
Show me Ukraine
Despite the great temptation to organize excursions abroad for tourists, where you can earn more and get the best tourist infrastructure, the Vidviday team decided to develop tourism only within Ukraine and open its attractions not only to our fellow citizents but also to foreigners. In order to show Ukraine to as many people as possible, the tour operator offers trips at affordable prices and has more than 320 tours and excursions, some of which are very popular among tourists. There are also exclusive trips that no other travel agencies offer.
Vidviday Tour Operator works to let people learn about the history, culture, traditions, and nature of Ukraine while being on vacation, so we invite you to “Fine tours in Ukraine“!
The title of the best tour operator in Ukraine is a further step towards implementing our new goals and ideas.
– show Ukraine to more than 1 million tourists;
– to create 1000 tours and excursions to Ukraine and Ukrainian places abroad;
– within the next 10 years, to create Vidviday Holding encompassing various companies: tour operators, hotels, museums, restaurants, schools, publishing house, transport company;
– to be the best tour operator in Ukraine in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Always!
Travel with the best. Vidviday Tour Operator – fine tours in Ukraine!