Alex Govoreanu discussing city exploration games in travel with Questo

The Intersection of Travel, Gaming, and Tech with Alex Govoreanu at Questo

Episode Overview

Episode Topic:
In this captivating episode of TravelPreneur, we get into the innovative world of city exploration games in travel with Alex Govoreanu, CEO and co-founder of Questo. Questo is a platform that transforms city exploration into an immersive adventure, blending puzzle-solving and role-playing elements to create unique experiences. With games available in over 500 cities, Questo offers travelers and locals alike a new way to discover urban landscapes. Alex shares the inception of Questo, discussing the inspiration behind the platform and how it has changed the way people interact with cities. This episode sheds light on the intersection of travel, gaming, and technology, revealing how city exploration games are revolutionizing urban adventures.

Lessons You’ll Learn:
Listeners will gain insights into the development and impact of city exploration games in travel from Alex Govoreanu’s perspective. Learn about the challenges faced in creating a scalable and engaging platform like Questo and how it ensures each game offers an authentic experience. Alex shares valuable lessons on the importance of understanding user needs, the role of technology in travel, and how to build a successful travel tech business. Additionally, discover how Questo fosters real-world connections through its innovative approach to urban exploration, making city adventures more personal and memorable.

About Our Guest:
Alex Govoreanu is the CEO and co-founder of Questo, a pioneering platform in the realm of city exploration games in travel. Driven by a passion for discovering cities and the world, Alex envisioned a way to make urban adventures more interactive and engaging. His background in technology and love for exploration led to the creation of Questo, a platform that has grown to feature games in over 500 cities globally. Alex’s dedication to improving how people experience cities is evident in his commitment to quality and authenticity, ensuring that each game is unique and meaningful. Under his leadership, Questo continues to expand and innovate, offering users unparalleled urban exploration experiences.

Topics Covered:
This episode covers a wide range of topics related to city exploration games in travel. Megha and Alex discuss the inception of Questo and the inspiration behind merging exploration with gamification. They delve into the unique aspects of each game, the process of creating and maintaining high-quality content, and the importance of user feedback. Alex shares stories of how Questo has impacted users, from connecting families to offering new ways to experience cities. The conversation also touches on the future of urban exploration, the role of technology in travel, and advice for aspiring travel tech entrepreneurs. Listeners will come away with a comprehensive understanding of how city exploration games are transforming travel and urban adventures.

Our Guest: Alex Govoreanu – Transforming Travel with City Exploration Games

Alex Govoreanu is the innovative CEO and co-founder of Questo, a pioneering platform in the field of city exploration games in travel. With a background in engineering from the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Alex’s passion for urban adventures and technology led him to create Questo. His journey began with a love for maps and city exploration, which he combined with gamification to enhance how people experience cities. Under his leadership, Questo has grown to feature games in over 500 cities worldwide, offering unique and engaging urban adventures​​.

Alex’s vision for Questo was inspired by his personal travel experiences. Disappointed by the conventional tourist routes in cities like Rome, he sought to create a platform that encourages authentic exploration. He partnered with his co-founder during the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing a need for safe, self-guided city tours. Questo’s unique blend of puzzle-solving and role-playing elements has resonated with a wide audience, from tourists to locals, and even corporate teams. The platform allows users to discover cities at their own pace while engaging in interactive stories crafted by local creators​​.

Govoreanu’s entrepreneurial spirit is marked by resilience and innovation. Despite early skepticism about the viability of such a platform, he remained committed to his vision. Alex emphasizes the importance of understanding user needs and continuously improving the product based on feedback. His dedication has paid off, with Questo becoming a popular tool for urban exploration, fostering real-world connections, and transforming how people interact with their surroundings. Alex’s success with Questo highlights his ability to merge technology, travel, and gaming into a seamless and enjoyable experience for users​.

Episode Transcript

Megha McSwain: Welcome back to another episode of TravelPreneur, where we delve into the innovation shaping the future of the travel industry. I’m your host, Megha McSwain. Today we’re exploring the world of city exploration exploration games with a very special guest, Alex Govoreanu. Did I say that correctly? Close enough?

Alex Govoreanu: That’s close.

Megha McSwain: Close enough. CEO and co-founder of Questo, a platform that transforms city exploration into an immersive adventure. Welcome to the show, Alex.

Alex Govoreanu: Thanks for having me.

Megha McSwain: Alex, can you tell us about the inception of Questo and what inspired you to blend exploration with puzzle-solving and role-playing in your game?

Alex Govoreanu: Sure. Well, I think there are many answers to this question. To sum them all up into one, I would say that I was always passionate about the exploration of cities specifically, but of the world in its entirety. My favorite book still remains The Atlas. But then in this context, if you might, I was traveling across from a couple of years ago, and after four days of going to all the most popular places in Rome, I just felt like, I was not doing anything other than following other people across the city. for me, that was my first holiday where I went on my own with my own money and such, and I imagined it to be different, and it wasn’t how I imagined it to be. When I came back home, I started discussing with my Covid co-founder, and we both realized that travel for at least a significant part of the population is not that, it’s not traveling, while following others is not going in big groups. It’s the need of going and discovering things by yourself and doing that on your own. So in this context, we thought about, okay, how is this going to look like in terms of a product or service? We thought about gamification because we wanted to build something that also can become a habit. We didn’t want to build a one-off type of experience and that’s it. We wanted to build something scalable that can be replicated globally and played not only when you travel, but every time when you go out.

Megha McSwain: And with Questo games available in over 500 cities, how do you ensure that each game is unique and offers an authentic experience to its players?

Alex Govoreanu: Every game is unique by default because, behind every game, there are some variables that are unique, like the creator, every game has its own creator who has its own expertise, talents, and stories to share places that they know, and then when they start building the game, that game is set up in a city which is unique in itself, and that city is unique through its places, through its areas and so on. So it’s very hard to have duplicates in our ecosystem when it comes, however, to the quality. What we do then is everyone is free to build in our ecosystem. We have no more than 5000 active creators who are building their games and maintaining them as such. Now, all of these creators, once they finalize another project or another game, they have to submit it for review. Our team then goes out and checks the game. If it checks our conditions, then we allow that game to be available in the app under a testing label. So while in this status, players are not asked to pay anything, they can just play and test because in many ways they are also helping the platform grow and only after the game has been thoroughly tested by a significant number of users, only then it become a product that’s sellable and people can buy it, and creators can make money out of it.

Megha McSwain: Can you share a story of how Questo has changed the way people experience cities? Maybe a memorable feedback or something that you’ve received from a user?

Alex Govoreanu: I think I have thousands to share, but I will share the most recent one that gave me goosebumps. I think it was also the most, the most emotional one. I was at a restaurant and having dinner with my family when a lady stopped me, came by our table and she was like, I want to shake your hand. I knew the person. I knew her from all the magazines. We are based in Romania and she’s everywhere on TV and in the magazine. She’s one of the most powerful women in the country. She is the major CEO of a top company here. She wanted to shake my hand. She knew me from also some media appearances here. She said that playing Questo in London with her nieces was the first time when she was able to connect with her nieces and that she’s living far from them. But through Questo, they were able to do something together, and she said, I got to know them. So that was extraordinary.

Megha McSwain: That’s nice.

Alex Govoreanu: Yes, yes.

Megha McSwain: And such a simple idea. But that’s huge really to connect like that transition, transitioning such a novel concept into a successful business must have come with its challenges. What were some significant hurdles that you faced while establishing Questo? This episode is brought to you by Travel businesses have unique needs when it comes to credit card processing, from large average ticket sizes and tolerance for higher chargeback ratios to simple integrations with the most popular shopping cart systems. The travel industry specialists at have you covered. Unfortunately, many of the most popular credit card processors initially accept travel businesses, but without warning, freeze their merchant accounts and the thousands of dollars in them. Because these service providers don’t understand or support the unique needs of the travel industry business. Don’t get stuck with one of the big guys who will freeze you out without a moment’s notice. Instead, work with a travel industry specialist who will support your business every step of the way. Visit to get a free quote today.

Alex Govoreanu: Here we can talk for days and weeks.

Megha McSwain: There’s always a bunch of challenges, aren’t there?

Alex Govoreanu: Past, present and future. I think they are all different categories. One there are like the the product in itself, challenges where you have to make sure that what you are building makes sense. How can you make sure you are building such a thing? Just go out and talk to your users. What I think here is the main if you want a trap that companies go into is forgetting this. So they might have some early signs of success and then forget about constantly reassessing what they are and discussing with their customers. Now you can’t stop that. You always, always have to be in touch with whoever is your audience. So that’s a challenge from the product perspective. If you want second on the business side if you’re building something as novel as we do, then you will have to deal with a lot of negativity and a lot of people that do not believe that what you are doing makes any sense. Basically, from day one, nobody believed in us. Nobody believed that there was going to be such a platform helping people go out. Nobody thought it could be transformed into a business. With every, every side discussion that we had, we got some extra motivation, I guess, to just pursue and and build it. Look, I will just resume this to discuss your values and understand what the hell you’re building. Second, if you know that what you’re doing is going to be big, just do it regardless of what other people are saying.

Megha McSwain: Keep the horse blinders on and keep pushing forward.

Alex Govoreanu: If you believe in it, yes.

Megha McSwain: Right. How do you see the role of technology evolving in the travel and tourism industry, especially considering the current trends toward digital experiences?

Alex Govoreanu: It’s inevitable. That’s what it is. You have to do it. Whatever you do in the travel space, you have to do it. Because it’s not an enemy, it’s not hard. I’ve seen a lot of words used in the context of technology in the travel space that are not true from my perspective. So what I think technology is, is just something that we can use to improve what the hell we are building and accelerate what we do and how we grow as such. So that’s why I say it’s inevitable. If you don’t do it, you will be insignificant or you will just not be anymore on the way.

Megha McSwain: Right. Questo caters to various groups like tourists, couples, and families. As you mentioned, aunts, nieces, and relatives have corporate teams. How do you tailor experiences to meet such diverse needs and expectations?

Alex Govoreanu: This is an answer that we started thinking about, I would say, more recently. In the early days, we had all the data. We could have come up with this answer much, much earlier, but we were blindsided by different other things. What I can tell you now is that every Questo customer is a human being, and that’s the base, that’s the foundation. So regardless if they are a couple, family, or a group of friends, regardless if they are playing in their city or when they travel, they are all humans. What we realize is, we offer in Questo is we help humans connect in the real world. Once you see your product, and your experiences in this context, things get very, very clear and simple. So for many years, we had this debate in the team that you have people that travel, they discover Questo and then you have people that play in their own city and they are different, and then you have to build different content. But then it’s false because you can discover Questo when you travel, but it’s the same you that you’ll play another game when you are in your own town. So what I need then to do is not think about how the game should be different because of the context, I should think about what you love. That’s it. What you love is more universal. then it became simple for us to understand exactly what are our battles in terms of content generation, how the game should look like, etc., etc. So I would narrow it down to this relationship, humans and what they love. Once you understand this, then I think it’s simple.

Megha McSwain: And looking ahead, what’s next for Questo? So are there new features or expansions in the pipeline that you can share?

Alex Govoreanu: Yes. What we aim now to do is get better at helping people connect in the real world. This is what we aim to do. So for us, travel is a very big part of what we do, but it’s not the only part. Travel is one context in which people go out and explore. The other context is when they are in their own city. How we see the world in our industry is people. They go out for different reasons, and we want to be there for them whenever they travel, whenever they want to go on a fun date, whenever they want to spend some fun time with their kids, whenever they want to go out with their friends. So in this scheme of things, what we want is to have enough experiences that cater to these needs, and that is amazing because we want people to see us as the habit that I was telling you at the beginning of this call. We don’t want to be just one thing that you might do once a year. We want Questo to be a verb in the dictionary. It’s that thing that you do whenever you go out with your friends, family, wherever.

Megha McSwain: As an entrepreneur who has successfully capitalized on the intersection of travel, gaming, and technology, what advice would you give to someone looking to enter the travel tech industry?

Alex Govoreanu: So specifically for travel tech.

Megha McSwain: Or you can be more broad if you have a piece of advice that you think would be helpful.

Alex Govoreanu: What comes into my mind? Well, specifically, when it comes to travel, I would say, it’s very important to understand why people travel and what they want to do when they travel. So do that first, discuss with a lot of customers, and understand not just them, but understand their playgrounds, understand the cities, understand what they want. The desperation is something very important that we learned early on about the needs of our customers when it comes to the Questo games. They first wanted to go and see the route as the main benefit, that’s what they first wanted. Second, they wanted the stories about the route, and third, the gamification. So with that in mind, it was very simple for us then to focus most of our resources and just build their wide routes. So that would be one. If you do it in travel, understand the ground customers and audience. Because travel is such an industry that is very, very connected to emotions. We’re not building here a fintech, SaaS product, or blah blah. No, no, it’s emotions. You are playing with people’s willingness to spend fun time with themselves. No. So that’s very important. Then overall, as an entrepreneur, I would say, the team is very important and that’s why you should put a lot of effort into finding the right people to build with. It’s orders of magnitude more important than pretty much everything. Very, very few things can even compete with how important your team is going to be.

Megha McSwain: Good advice. How do you envision the future of urban exploration, and what role do you think Questo will have in this evolving landscape?

Alex Govoreanu: The future of urban exploration, for me, it’s synonymous with coastal. But. So I can tell you our future. We believe that we will have millions of people on a daily, weekly basis going out on our platform and spending fun time in the real world. We have this quote in a company that was borrowed from Ready Player One, the book. There’s a saying there that says, the only thing real that’s left is the real world. That’s it. This is somehow how we see the future. We see all these advancements. We are not afraid of them. We embrace them. We use a lot of AI in whatever we do. What we want to do then is in this increasingly virtual and digital world, we want to help people spend time also in the only thing that’s real, which is the real world because the virtual thing is going to just grow. But being in the real world with your friends, with your family, walking, looking at things.

Megha McSwain: Looking away from your phone.

Alex Govoreanu: Yes. That’s something that I think will be a massive opportunity. And we are there for that.

Megha McSwain: Good. That’s excellent. Well, Alex, thank you so much for sharing all of this. It’s super interesting learning about the exciting journey of Questo. Thanks for joining us. Let our listeners know where they can learn more about you and where they can research more about Questo.

Alex Govoreanu: The easiest answer here is That’s our website. If anyone has any questions, or inquiries whatsoever, they can just contact us at

Megha McSwain: Wonderful. Thank you. To our listeners, remember to check out Questo for your next city adventure and discover the hidden gems around you. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe to TravelPreneur for more insights from leaders in the travel industry. Leave us a review and share your thoughts on today’s episode. Thank you Alex and thank you everyone for listening.

Alex Govoreanu: Thank you, too.