GetYourGuide Eyes North America Growth, Adds AI Tools with $194 Million Investment

Tours & activities OTA to focus on increasing market share in North America, tech innovation including AI, and helping more operators to get connected: interview with GetYourGuide COO Tao Tao

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GetYourGuide has announced the closing of $194 million in equity and credit financing. The Berlin-based tours, activities and attractions online travel agency (OTA) will use the investment to increase their market share globally with special focus on North America, and to accelerate tech innovation focused on both travelers and operators.

The news comes on earlier industry reports that Asia-based OTA Klook was in the middle of raising capital as well. 

With less than half of tour and activity operators online, more consumers spending on experiences over things, and more travelers booking experiences on the web and on mobile devices, according to Arival research, there is certainly room for growth in this space. 

GetYourGuide’s focus, according to COO Tao Tao, is on simplifying the onboarding process by building technology tools that make it easier for operators to get connected in the first place and improve their listings. This includes AI enhancements with things like tour description optimization and translation, customer communication with an AI-enhanced chatbot, and data insights about what types of experiences are performing well and why. 

GetYourGuide recently announced a ChatGPT plugin for live chat on their site.

“With Large Language Models (LLMs) you can really distill the key insights for operators about what customers love, what they don’t love,” and how to improve their offerings based on that, Tao explains. 

For example, experiences that are “off the beaten path” or highlight “hidden gems within [larger] destinations” tend to perform well on the platform, according to Tao. “Anything that goes a little bit beneath the surface that highlights something extra.” 

GetYourGuide is also focused on increasing connectivity, Tao says, with particular emphasis on driving the adoption of “Pricing over API,” which means product prices update automatically based on data from an operator’s connected restech, or online booking platform. 

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“Booking volumes in the first quarter are already four times higher than the first quarter of 2019,” shares Tao. “I think we’re very uniquely positioned to win this space.”

So who are they winning against?

Many of their OTA competitors have also reported significant growth (including Viator, Klook, TUI Musement, etc.), but Tao does have a good point when he says, “our biggest competitor is really that people aren’t aware of this category.” 

“The existing trend of experiences will continue to grow, that’s not going away,” predicts Tao, who credits the support of investors in part to the experience industry’s growth and potential as a whole. “I think [the experiences sector] will increase more in its relative weight in relation to travel.”

Operator Takeaway: The experiences industry is growing as more consumers spend on experiences over things, and travelers look for experiences that are easily bookable online. Join us at Arival in Bangkok, Orlando or Berlin to learn more about how to position yourself to take advantage of this trend, and get your online direct bookings and distribution strategy in shape. See also How to Choose a Booking System and Strengthening Your Business with a Diverse Sales Mix. 

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Header photo courtesy of GetYourGuide

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