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Digital Tour Operator pioneer itravel takes over leading family travel portal in the German market, Clubfamily.de (SD Inspiring Travel GmbH).
In 2012, itravel first announced its ambitions to disrupt the long distance leisure travel market with a new approach allowing travelers to configure trip components such as accommodation, flights, activities and experiences according to their individual preferences, and booking these directly through to the local provider in the respective destination. The itravel platform allows this configuration to take place directly through livechat and social media as well.
itravel has raised more than 15 Mil. EUR in Venture Financing in several rounds since its inception and remained in stealth mode since its first announcement. Investors include such travel experts and high profile Angels such as Brent Hoberman (Founder of Lastminute.com), Fabrice Grinda (OLX, Ranked France’s top Angel Investor), Frank Thelen (Lilium), MIT-Professor Kenneth P Morse, Christophe Maire, and Tech Multimillionaire Martin Varsavsky.
In its later rounds, itravel has gained the support of the following Venture Funds:
Together, these investors combine a stronge expertise in travel, drawing on many successful investments in the sector, including in Trivago, Viajanet, Dreamlines or Bravofly.
Having grown to 34 employees until 2017, itravel now sells in excess of 5.000 trip combinations in more than 60 destinations on all continents. In the early years of its development, itravel focused on destinations with bespoke travel itineraries, boutique hotels and exceptional activities and experiences to build a strong competitive position in the market for long distance leisure and honeymoon trips.
With the acquisition of SD Inspiring Travel, itravel now additionally tackles the more competitive markets for family vacations and European summer destinations, which until now only made up about 15% of their inventory. The 18 employees of SD Inspiring Travel will complement the existing itravel team in client services for families, Software Development and Editorial staff.
Founded in 2010, SD Inspiring Travel built the Clubfamily.de brand for family vacations as well as Familienschiff.de for Cruises and acquired KUF Reisen, a Tour Operator for family vacations, in 2017. Clubfamily.de has grown to become the leading specialist portal in the German speaking market for family vacations advised and sold online and has a strong base of recurring users. These assets will help itravel to expand its position in the segments of family vacations and Mediterranean summer destinations.
The acquisition is itravel’s second acquisition to date, after the integration of Vermundo Reisen, a specialist boutique for Honeymoon travel it acquired in late 2016.
The main driver of itravel’s interest in the acquisition is the opportunity to significantly increase its operational capacity in the highly competitive segment of family and summer vacations. From SD Inspiring Travel’s equity point of view, the integration into itravel’s business model allows its team to grow beyond the family travel niche and be part of a more broadly disruptive equity story.
itravel launched its internationalization with a new .com site earlier this year and plans to expand from the basis of the acquisition and capital raise it has now announced. The company is aiming high, with an eye to superseding established market leaders in its segment such as Meier’s Weltreisen and Windrose, both in revenue and trips booked, by 2020.
“The Inspiring Travel team’s talent will fuel our growth in important segments and help us become a leading player with 24 months.”, says Axel Schmiegelow, CEO of itravel Group.
“We’re excited to become part of radically customer-centric, innovative company and make a dent in the leisure travel market”, says Dennis Kämker, Founder and CEO of SD Inspiring Travel GmbH.
Axel Schmiegelow, CEO
Leonie von der Beeck
Head of Corporate Communications
Sechtemer Str. 5, 50968 Köln, Germany
Telefon: +49 221 534109-300
Fax: +49 221 534109-700
Web: www.itravel.de / .com
Twitter: @itravel_de | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/itravel/
itravel is the first digital Tour Operator that uses data analysis, artificial intelligence, and block chain technology to offer travelers the opportunity to create their own trips by compiling and booking their desired experiences and activities online in advance.
Travel expert investors have made early investments itravel, such as Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com, Dr. Thomas Döring, former Thomas Cook Executve Board Member and current Director at Holidaycheck, and Sascha Hausmann of Howzat Partners.
itravel applies the principle of machine learning, which stems from artificial intelligence, in order to predict matches between customers, seasons, and trip components. This way, itravel can appropriately pair its offers with the customer’s preferences. By recording and evaluating online behavior, bookings, and customer information, itravel statistically determines matching product characteristics and customer profiles, much in the way Amazon does this for retail.
Decision making and booking are facilitated through the trip finder application and through live chat with the travel customer, acting as an online concierge/agent service to configure trips.
On the back end, blockchain technology allows itravel to directly book and pay providers in the country of destination for the desired travel packages. This eliminates the high costs of bank and credit card servicing fees and mitigates the risk of currency exchange rates. In this transaction model that itravel is currently developing, Smart Contracts function as the “electronic notary” of otherwise insecure international travel bookings: it confirms the reservation with the local provider directly and triggers a simplified payment process. After the booking is successfully completed, the digital currency is exchanged to the local providers currency at a favorable exchange rate at their own discretion.
itravel thus aims to disrupt every step of the value chain and margin calculation for long distance leisure travel and redistribute the economics of vacation bookings in favor of both customers and local providers.