Munich-based Holidu turns profitable amid pandemic; raises funding from former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen

The COVD-19 pandemic has severely impacted the global travel and tourism industry. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a 22% fall in international tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2020. It also predicts that the crisis could lead to an annual decline of between 60% and 80% when compared with 2019 figures. In spite of this devastating effect of the pandemic, Holidu turned profitable in May and since then generated seven-digit positive EBIT figures. It just raised funding from Kees Koolen – former CEO of Booking.com. 

Profitable Amid Pandemic

Holidu has announced that Koolen has invested more than €4M into the company from his personal fund, as part of a €5M extension to the €40M Series C round of the previous year.

Headquartered in Munich, Holidu is a global price comparison platform that lets people find, compare, and book vacation rentals all over the world. According to the company, the funding follows a period of accelerated growth for Holidu, despite the raging pandemic’s impact on the global travel market. 

The company claims that in July alone, more than 27 million users visited the Holidu website. This resulted in a 2.6x growth in year-on-year bookings and more than €130M of newly generated bookings that month.

Kees Koolen is a Dutch businessman and investor. He was the COO, CEO, and chairman of Booking.com from 2002-2014. Booking.com was acquired in 2005 by a US-based travel booking company called Priceline Group – later changed its name to Booking Holdings Inc. in 2018. 

He was an early Uber investor and helped Uber roll out internationally. Moreover, he was a founding partner at EQT ventures, and now he is active in driving the transition towards clean energy with his clean energy conglomerate Koolen Industries.

Koolen has been an active board member in Holidu since 2016, both during his time as a partner at EQT Ventures and later in his role as advisor to EQT Ventures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is reshuffling the cards in the travel industry and Holidu is clearly one of the winners of the accelerated trend towards alternative accommodation”, says Koolen.

Pandemic pushes domestic

The company believes that this pandemic has caused a shift in users’ travel behaviour, with many preferring domestic travel. According to Holidu’s internal data comparing July 2020 with the same month of the previous year, users chose domestic travels, made more last-minute bookings, and preferred more premium accommodation choices.

“People had been locked in their apartments due to COVID-19 for a long time and we saw that once it was allowed again, people just wanted to travel. Many of them looked for safer nearby travel options, for which vacation rentals are ideal. We have focused on this segment of the travel market since our foundation and it makes us beyond happy that we have been able to help millions of travelers to have a great summer vacation this year.” explains Johannes Siebers, Co-founder and CEO at Holidu.

“At one point, we almost got overwhelmed by the large demand. Fortunately, we were able to react quickly thanks to the strong work of our team and the internal technology tools,” he adds.

Hoildu was founded in 2014 brothers Johannes and Michael Siebers. It was founded by the duo following a frustrating experience while booking a vacation rental for a surfing trip to Portugal. According to the company, they spent hours browsing through dozens of websites to find the right accommodation and realised that some of the rentals were offered on multiple sites for different prices. 

Holidu, currently, has a team of more than 200 people and closed its €40M Series C round led by Prime Ventures in 2019.

Image credits: Holidu

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