Who: Ciska van Schagen (49)

What: Minicards Barcelona 🇪🇸

Part of the Minicards network since: 2003

Exploits also: Minicards desk maps in two versions: English and Chinese

1. What’s your biggest milestone or achievement?
“I started Minicards Barcelona in 2003.A great concept: simple, easy to use and visible. My plan was to run this business for five years. I expected Minicards to be overtaken by digital media by then. But despite the online competition Minicards remains a strong product. The cards are still a popular source of information for tourists. I expect it stays like this in the near future, especially for those who don’t want to have a mobile in their hands on vacation all the time. Now, sixteen years later I’m still running Minicards. That’s quite a milestone and I’m proud of it.”

2. Can you tell us about your biggest challenge right now?
We are visible in hotels and other locations, but online there are still many opportunities. The biggest challenge for me is: how are we going to create more online visibility and profile ourselves on social media? In this way we can attract new customers and offer the existing ones even more service.”

3. What’s big on your to do-list for this year?
“Approaching customers by phone or email is not always effective; people do not read their mail or are difficult to reach. Via social media, such as LinkedIn, I see new opportunities. That’s why I want to focus on social selling. It would be great to make contact with potential customers through social media, so we can build up valuable relationships and start a sales process.”

4. What’s the most remarkable thing that ever happened at your business?
“Once, a Russian company wanted to advertise on Minicards. The contact person suggested to meet in the lobby of a hotel. I saw a man sitting at the bar with a suitcase beside him. I started to talk about Minicards, but he looked at me and said: «Don’t say anything. We’re just going to do business and here’s the money.» He pushed the suitcase towards me. It felt like I was in a mafia movie and didn’t accept the money. Confused I left. This was a Russian way of doing business, but I had no idea. In the end we worked together, by the way. Finally, I accepted the money, but not after he signed a contract of course.”

5. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since starting your business?
“Always invest in personal contact with your customers. Start a conversation, and don’t be afraid to ask about personal stuff too. Building on a good relationship, so that customers know you and trust you, is worth its weight in gold.”