It turns out GetYourGuide’s acquisition of fellow Berlin startup Gidsy in April wasn’t a one-off. The travel activity booking company – rapidly emerging as a market leader in Europe – will now acquire the assets of defunct New York City-based company iGottaGuide to help it grow in the US.
Like Gidsy, iGottaGuide was a peer-to-peer platform for unusual and unique experiences, though with a focus just on tours rather than the range of activities and workshops offered by Gidsy. It attracted press mentions in the likes of the New York Times before shutting down last year, fewer than two years after its launch.
The financial terms of the deal aren’t disclosed. GetYourGuide raised $14m in January 2013 from Spark Capital and Highland Capital Partners Europe, mostly earmarked for growth in new markets. GetYourGuide CEO Johannes Reck said today that the deal is smaller than the Gidsy deal. iGottaGuide, which now redirects to GetYourGuide, was also smaller than Gidsy at the time of acquisition.
Breaking into the US market
The idea of acquiring smaller companies in the crowded travel and activity booking market came up before the Gidsy acquisition. “We started discussions with iGottaGuide before the Gidsy deal but we closed the Gidsy deal first,” Reck explained.
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The latest deal will help GetYourGuide with its online marketing in the US, through the redirected local domain, and boost its more niche activity offerings in New York City. As part of the acquisition, iGottaGuide cofounders Keith Petri and Michael Griffiths will remain consultants to GetYourGuide for North America. The company had no other employees at the time of acquisition.
“We’ve always been very cautious about the US,” Reck said, as it’s a big market and expensive to tackle, but the company is now “making strides towards it”. The US already makes up a double-digit percentage of GetYourGuide’s revenue, with that fraction itself worth a double-digit million euro figure.
Challenges for peer-to-peer travel startups
The similarities between Gidsy and iGottaGuide make the challenge for the peer-to-peer activity industry plain: finding enough passionate amateur guides and hosts to sustain growth. “It’s not big enough to warrant a global platform,” Reck said today.
Yet the desire to get off the tourist track isn’t going away. GetYourGuide hopes its acquisitions will bring more niche activities into its portfolio.
Also this month, news of up to 80 layoffs at Lonely Planet is raising questions about how digital tools will supplement traditional paper guide books, which suggests there are still opportunities out there for up-and-coming travel startups to play with.