New focus on activities as Booking.com partners with buoyant GetYourGuide
As GetYourGuide was trousering $50 million this morning in Series C funding, details also emerged to what has been going on behind the scenes for a while at Booking.com.
Without any fanfare until now, GetYourGuide and Booking.com have been working on a strategy by which every guest of property is now sent a list of things to do in the email they receive just before they arrive.
The partnership started out as a test on some users around six months ago but is now a “fully rolled out product”, according to Booking.com.
Simple tactic: users receive their pre-stay email; Booking.com lists lots of popular activities based on the city and the location of the hotel; email directs them to a co-branded page for booking the product.
In some respects, it’s a standard piece of customer marketing, but the significance here is that the volumes flowing through the Booking.com are sizeable and probably more than any other partner than GetYourGuide could wish for elsewhere with a similar deal.
Thus why it is understood that a number of players in the tours and activities sector were pitching to have the right to partner the company on the product.
In addition, until now the Priceline Group-owned company had been reasonably lukewarm on the concept of selling tours and activities as part of the booking process for hotels.
Sister brand Priceline.com in the US had a Viator-operated tours and activities channel available from its homepage for a short time.
But times have clearly changed and an official confirms the deal is its “first full product in this space” and is part of its strategy to “enhance the post-book experience”.
GetYourGuide, for its part, is preferring to leave the commentary on its deal to Booking.com at present, instead handling the glory of being the recipient of the largest capital raise in the history of online tours and activities.
But deals such as the Booking.com agreement are going to be helpful if the company is going to fulfil the trust that its investors have now placed on it.
Ironically, Booking.com was one of the brands talked about as a potential suitor for GetYourGuide after the Viator acquisition by TripAdvisor last year, not least because its ex-CEO Kees Koolen is now a member of GetYourGuide’s board of directors.
When asked why the company felt the need to raise more money, 16 months after the $25 Series B in the summer of 2015, Reck says:
“We still had plenty of runway with the cash on the bank, but the opportunity to work with KKR and the degrees of freedom that this investment is giving to our company was just too convincing of an argument.
“We now have the financial means to focus on building a great product for our customers and grow to become the global category leader.”
He argues that the funding is “clearly a vote for staying independent for the foreseeable future”, adding:
“We’re 100% focussed on building a great business that transforms the in-destination experience for our customers.”
Although the company does not publish any financials, Reck claims, despite the wobbles in the early days, is “increasingly profitable” and has more than doubled its revenues in recent years.
This, he says pointedly, is “something very rare these days when you study startup P&Ls”.
Although there is a growing (and perhaps worrying) tendency to wildly throw the word “unicorn” into the common vernacular in the tech and travel startup sector, Reck says he dislikes the term but adds:
“We’ve definitely created tremendous shareholder value for our investors and they are very happy with our progress. I think the best is still ahead for us, the market is just waking up.”
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