GetYourGuide raises $194M at $2B valuation and plans to invest in AI.

The German online travel experience service provider, GetYourGuide, has announced that it raised $194 million from both new and old investors. The company aims to capitalize on the growing demand for travel experiences and the new buzz in Artificial Intelligence (AI). CNBC reports that the funding was pulled in two major ways, equity and debt.

The equity part of the funding saw the firm pull $85 million from investors, led by US asset management firm Blue Pool Capital. Other participants in the equity funding include KKR and Temasek, both of whom already have stakes in the company.

GetYourGuide is an investor’s favorite, as the total funding for the company is now a little over $1 billion. According to sources close to the financing, the company is now valued at $2 billion, up from the $1.4 billion it disclosed not long ago. The debt part of the funding was led by UniCredit and also backed by BNP Paribas SA (EPA: BNP), Citibank, and KfW.

GetYourGuide occupies a unique niche in the travel industry, competing with top firms like TripAdvisor. Rather than sell hotel bookings and flight schedules like its competitors, GetYourGuide is more focused on selling experiences, creating a unique market offering that others are typically not focused on.

Over the past couple of years, GetYourGuide has improved its offerings, and among the services and experiences it has for its users include the “Originals” with examples including the opportunity to turn on the lights of the Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City, and visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York an hour before regular opening hours.

GetYourGuide Investment Use Case: AI and Expansion

According to GetYourGuide, the funds raised will be used to invest in AI, including the integration of Large Language Models (LLMs) into its platform to better customize user experiences. The funding will also be used to finance its expansion plans into the United States.

The company hopes that its projected plans for growth and the funding will help it continue on its growth path post-COVID-19 pandemic. Johannes Reck, the company’s CEO, recalled that the firm plunged to its absolute bottom during the pandemic where it made no remarkable revenue for several quarters.

“We were severely depressed in the pandemic,” Reck told CNBC. “The travel industry was very hard hit within the travel industry. GetYourGuide was probably one of the worst affected. Experiences were shut down. People didn’t go out.”

He said the company started seeing recovery when the Omicron variant was tagged as one that is not as deadly as envisaged. The company recorded a 2x growth in its sales volume in 2022, and it quadrupled its first-quarter 2023 volume when compared with that of 2019.