German online travel startup GetYourGuide has secured $194 million in funding from investors to take advantage of the increased demand for travel services during the summer, expand its presence in the U.S., and invest in artificial intelligence tools such as large language models (LLMs). The funding round included $85 million of equity investment led by U.S. asset management firm Blue Pool Capital, valuing the company at nearly $2 billion. Existing investors KKR and Temasek also participated in the round. The debt portion of the deal was led by UniCredit, with backing from BNP Paribas, Citibank, and KfW. The total investment in GetYourGuide now exceeds $1 billion.
Unlike other players in the online travel industry, GetYourGuide focuses on offering users unique experiences and activities in unexplored destinations rather than traditional travel services like hotels and flights. Through its platform, the company partners with third-party suppliers who offer these experiences, and GetYourGuide earns a commission on each booking. The company experienced a significant increase in demand as travel restrictions eased and cross-border transportation resumed following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johannes Reck, the CEO and co-founder of GetYourGuide, acknowledged the challenges the company faced during the pandemic, with revenues being wiped out for several consecutive quarters. However, as travel rebounded and restrictions eased, the company saw a surge in business. Sales volumes doubled in 2022 and quadrupled in the first quarter of 2023 compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. To adapt to the decline in physical experiences, GetYourGuide introduced virtual tours and its own exclusive branded experiences called “Originals.”
With the fresh funding, GetYourGuide plans to expand its operations in the U.S., which has been a significant growth market for the company. It also aims to enhance its product development, particularly in the field of AI, by leveraging LLMs. These large language models are trained on extensive data and can generate text and content. GetYourGuide is already using LLMs to automate the generation of experience descriptions and personalized recommendations. By investing in AI and expanding its presence in the U.S., GetYourGuide aims to tap into the estimated $300 billion travel experiences market and the larger $1.5 trillion market for experiences in general.
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