Withlocals’ data-driven approach to private tours impresses investors

Withlocals.com, a Netherlands-based marketplace connecting travellers with local tour guides, has raised €3.5 million ($4.3 million) in a Series A round, led by Inkef Capital.

The business was set up in 2013 (see its tnooz startup pitch here) and now has more than 1,200 bookable private tours on its platform, covering 24 cities around the world. Some 900 local hosts, all of whom are vetted by Withlocals, use the service to promote their trips.

The funding will help the business deliver on its plans to expand into another 40 cities in 2018, including Florence, New York and Hong Kong. It refers to EyeForTravel research which says that says that the market for personalized tours will be worth $6.8 billion a year by 2020, and believes it can capture 20% of that market.

It adds that over the past 18 months it has increased booking volumes by an average of 20% month-on-month and is optimistic that by adding more languages to its web site, adding more destinations and upgrading its mobile web and app, this growth can continue.

Currently just over 40% of bookings are made via its app, and it expects this proportion to increase to 85% by the end of 2018.

Matthijs Keij, CEO of Withlocals, said: “Travelers today are looking to get off the ‘TripAdvisor circuit’ to instead have unique experiences personalized around their interests and personalities.”

With so much talk in the market around personalisation, the one-to-one approach of Withlocals differentiates it from businesses such as GetYourGuide and Viator which, it claims, focus on mass groups. Withlocals says that its products can be customized by the host according to the client’s needs.

Kyang Yung, director at Inkef Capital, recognised that vacations have shifted from “destination-led to experience-led” and that Withlocals can exploit this trend. He was impressed with its “data-driven approach” to building up its portfolio. It appears to be its first travel investment, based on the firms listed under Inkef’s portfolio.

The news of Withlocal’s funding comes a day after Italian tours and activities firm Musement bought planning and content platform Triposo for an undisclosed sum.

See also:

Tune into Arival, the new event for tours and activities taking place in Las Vegas later this week, via tnoozLIVE@Arival

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