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With TripAdvisor and Expedia investing significant resources into their tours and activities businesses these days, Berlin-based GetYourGuide just secured a historic funding round, $50 million, for a tours and activities company and became the largest-funded such enterprise yet with $95 million in total funding to date.
KKR, which led the Series C round and will contribute “primary capital” and operational resources, was joined in the funding by fellow new investor Nokia Growth Partners and existing funders Spark Capital, Highland Capital Partners and Sunstone Capital.
GetYourGuide co-founder and CEO Johannes Reck tells Skift the funding infusion will be used for international expansion and to invest in mobile, “which is going extremely well.” GetYourGuide, which had its largest previous round of funding in July 2014 with a $25 million Series B round, offers more than 27,800 tours and activities in some 2,500 destinations.
A competitor of GetYourGuide, Viator, had attracted $20 million in total funding before TripAdvisor acquired the 19-year-old company in 2014 for $200 million.
GetYourGuide isn’t releasing its post-money valuation figure, but it has to be at least $400 million, if not more.
What’s going on in the tours and activities’ space that GetYourGuide would be approaching $100 million in funding?
For one thing, the extremely low margin and scale-challenged peer-to-peer model has been totally discredited as a viable business in tours and activities. Founded in 2009, GetYourGuide abandoned its student peer-to-peer guides business about a year later but that didn’t stop a bevy of tours and activities’ startups from taking the peer to peer tack and flaming out in the process.
Still, tours and activities is a challenging business, not only because it is a tremendously fragmented and still-largely offline endeavor, but because the online products are not generally big-ticket items. The top three attractions on GetYourGuide’s homepage today are Eiffel Tower ($48), Vatican Museums ($66) and Louvre Museum ($89).
So it is all about building volumes in tours and activities — and international expansion is the focus of GetYourGiuide’s latest funding round.
Since TripAdvisor’s 2014 acquisition of Viator, two of the largest online travel companies, TripAdvisor and Expedia have made significant investments in tours and activities while the Priceline Group has mostly sat on the sidelines with the exception of its $2.6 billion acquisition of restaurant platform OpenTable in July 2014.
In the interim, Viator has been doing serious volumes. In the nine months that ended September 20, 2015, Viator and TripAdvisor’s restaurant reservations business generated a combined $82 million in revenue, TripAdvisor reported.
Meanwhile, in Expedia’s third quarter earnings call October 29, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi spoke about Expedia’s home-grown tours business.
“We’re very, very, very and just in case you didn’t get it, very excited about our tours business,” Khosrowshahi said. “It is growing at triple-digit rates and it is — the product has improved, that team has worked for a long time on improving that product and it is a product front to back. And the product, as you know now, is available in mobile, we feature the product on TV.”
“And this is, as far as the technology revamp, etc., this product was really revamped and launched into the marketplace based on the new tech platform really this year and the team has been optimizing aggressively. And it shows in the results. And I think we’re very early, we think we have got many, many years going forward of our tours product improving substantially and we’re just starting. But I’m really excited for the team and I can tell you the team is pretty pumped right now.”
Expedia even ran a TV advertisement touting its tours and activities product on mobile and spent $6.4 million on it during a 6-week span.
With Expedia acquiring Travelocity, Orbitz Worldwide, Wotif and HomeAway since 2014, it isn’t hard to imagine Expedia adding GetYourGuide to its portfolio — although with this latest funding round the price tag just went up.
Asked about Expedia’s potential interest, Reck says: “Expedia and TripAdvisor are both doing a great job and they have a great customer base. But they both aren’t obsessed with building the best in-destination experience for travelers. That’s a small side business for them. We don’t have the legacy of their tech platforms and can focus 100 percent on building the best customer experience in our space.”
“In the end the travel industry is a super big market and I think Expedia, TripAdvisor and GetYourGuide can be very successful,” Reck says. “But we’ll work super hard to be the number one in tours and activities out of this group.”
Special Report: Tours and Activities