LONDON — SoftBank-backed activity booking app GetYourGuide has raised 114 million euros ($133 million) as it tries to look beyond the pandemic. Total investment in the company now stands at over $780 million, while its valuation of over $1 billion remains the same.
The Berlin start-up's latest funding round, led by U.S. private equity firm Searchlight Capital, has been raised as a convertible note, which is a short-term debt that will turn into equity in a future financing round.
GetYourGuide CEO Johannes Reck told CNBC on Thursday that raising money through standard means would have been "impossible" for a travel company in the current climate.
"This form of financing reflects the fact that our investor base shares the belief that our long-term mission matters, and that leisure travel is a fundamental human need," he said via email. "People will travel again, and when they do, experiences will be what they crave the most."
Existing venture capital investors including SoftBank Vision Fund, Lakestar, Battery Ventures, and Highland Europe also participated in the funding round.
Reck said the money will give GetYourGuide, which competes with Airbnb and Viator, the flexibility to invest in marketing and getting its products ready for future travelers' "preferences and standards."
On the digital side, GetYourGuide said that means ensuring the platform suits travelers that are more spontaneous and are more likely to cancel. On the physical side, it means ensuring guides have had mandatory training, as well as providing free masks and sanitizers to customers.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the travel industry, with revenues drying up completely in some cases.
However, in a press release announcing the funding, GetYourGuide struck an optimistic tone, pointing to the United Nations World Tourism Organization which suggested that 2021 and 2022 will see a double-digit rebound in global tourism "after the pandemic resolves, traveler confidence increases and pent-up demand is unlocked."
This is far from assured, however, as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise around the world and countries such as Germany and France reintroduce national lockdowns. To date there have been 44.5 million confirmed cases of the virus, and 1.17 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
GetYourGuide, which was backed by SoftBank in a $484 million funding round last year, laid off close to 100 staff earlier this month. Elsewhere, TripAdvisor let around 900 people go in April, and Airbnb laid off 1,900 staff (25% of its workforce) in May.