GetYourGuide raises $194 million to fuel curated travel experiences and global expansion

GetYourGuide, a travel experiences marketplace based in Berlin, successfully raises $194 million in equity and credit financing to fuel its global expansion and drive product innovation.
GetYourGuide raises $194 million to fuel curated travel experiences and global expansion

Today global travel experiences platform and marketplace GetYourGuide, announced the closing of $194 million in equity and credit financing. 

GetYourGuide enables travellers to discover and book the best and most unique activities in any destination — including guided tours by local experts, culinary excursions, cooking and craft classes, skip-the-line tickets, as well as exclusive bucket-list experiences.

The Berlin unicorn's website offers over 75,000 global experiences from 16,000 curated suppliers.

I spoke to CEO Johannes Reck, who shared that the company has emerged resilient from COVID-19, during which it laid off 15 percent of its staff. 

He attributes this to "a very unorthodox approach to the crisis" compared to the expectation to take deep, rigorous cuts, especially as "the company was at zero revenues for multiple quarters." 

Underpinned by this was the belief "that this would just be a temporary crisis, and that things would rebound."

Perhaps the most significant wins from the crisis have been an expansion of digital-friend tourism experiences, which GetYourGuide capitalised on by rebuilding its platform and embedding machine learning for customer care and customised curation. 

Reck explained that a lot can go wrong at a backend level when dealing with local products, last-minute bookings, ticketing, and logistics like meeting points across 75,000 products and millions of customers globally.  

"AI can help. An example is ensuring that "a new experience does not contain the wrong content. It optimises the text descriptions, translations, etc. based on learning within the system instead of manual intervention."

This extends to more granular customer search curation where "instead of just searching Rome, you can have much more complex queries that the AI can easily digest based on the training data in our catalogue, which is constantly refreshed. 

For example, asking, "What am I going to do in Rome on the weekend accounting for weather, traveller composition and preferred activities."

Interestingly, Reck contends that their core competitor is offline, explaining that while online hotel reservations and alternative accommodation are 70% to 80% of the market, digital platforms serve just 20% to 30%.

However, GetYourGuide is continually diversifying the experiences on offer. It recently launched Originals, a new collection of exclusive, one-of-a-kind experiences that are not bookable anywhere else.

Developed with local partners, events include visiting the Sistine Chapel to unlock the doors with master key keeper Gianni Crea and a sailing trip with world-class French sailor Tanguy Le Turquais aboard his transatlantic solo racing yacht while training for the Vendée Globe. 

But while GetYourGuide has a strong presence across Europe, tackling North America is vital, and it aims to use the new funding to aid market expansion and profitability in the region. 

Blue Pool Capital led the $85 million Series F funding round, with participation from KKR and Temasek. UniCredit led the Revolving Credit Facility (RCF) of $109 million, with participation from BNP Paribas, Citi, and KfW.

The company's profits are limited to its major markets instead of all markets. However, Reck notes that "we came from a position of strength. We never needed to raise additional capital. The business is going gangbusters in 2023, with earnings four times that of Q1 in 2019."

While the funding round is lower than the company's previous rounds, which total $886.2 million, the credit lines on offer are significant, as they are typically only given to public companies:

"So that's a sign of maturity, which I love. And it gives us a lot of strategic flexibility moving forward. We want to grow the business organically, but also to look at all sorts of other things that we can do like foundational investments like AI, but also potentially mergers and acquisitions."

Powered by a global team of more than 700 travel and tech experts, the company is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, and has 17 local offices globally (including the UK and USA).

You can also take watch our earlier YouTube interview with Johannes Weck

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