1643 days ago

TLabs Showcase – GetYourGuide

TLabs focus on startups featuring Switzerland-based GetYourGuide.


Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?

GetYourGuide consists of five co-founders from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). Other than that, we have two full-time student interns, two part-time student interns and one external consultant who used to work at a key competitor.

The managing and founding team (average age is 27.4!) – CEO: Johannes Reck (MSc Biochemistry, visiting associate Boston Consulting), COO: Pascal Mathis (MSc Electrical Engineering, product manager Siemens Switzerland), CTO: Tobias Rein (MSc Electrical Engineering, many freelance IT projects), Marketing: Tao Tao (BSc Economics, president of a leading European student consultancy). Web Design: Martin Sieber (MSc Biology, freelance designer).

In addition, we have Roland Zeller (founder and CEO of, the leading Swiss OTA) on our board of directors and as a business advisor.

What financial support did you have to launch the business?

The company is partially self-financed (friends and family) and partially funded by the Zurich Cantonal Bank’s (ZKB) start-up financing programme. ZKB is the third largest bank in Switzerland.

What problem are you trying to solve?

  • B2B: Lack of a standard in the activities market with its many opaque and bilateral value chains.
  • B2C: Lack of product and price transparency in the activities market because you never know who the actual supplier of a certain activity is. And lack of diversity: it is difficult to book long-tail and sometimes more interesting products unless you do cumbersome Google searches. Our philosophy is to give customer as much choice as possible and as powerful filtering tools as possible.

Describe the business, core products and services?

GetYourGuide is an online intermediary connecting end customers with suppliers of tours, attractions and activities. We contract sightseeing tours, adventure activities, multiple day tours, attractions passes, and many other products for the FIT market. On our website, suppliers can upload and manage their products themselves and under their own brand.

Customers can book these products through our website and our extensive distribution network. For OTAs, affiliates and other distribution partners, GetYourGuide provides tours & activities content with real-time information directly from the original suppliers.

GetYourGuide’s strength lies in sourcing and selling the full spectrum of tours & activities via transparent, automated and true e-commerce distribution.

Who are your key customers and users at launch?

  • B2C: internet-savvy travellers looking for fun things to do at their destinations and willing to spend money on it.
  • B2B: Any website that wants to use our content, but mainly OTAs (out of those that don’t already use Viator or Isango), hotel chains (we have, the German subsidiary of, already on-board), tourism boards, and long-tail website such as blogs and destination information websites.

Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?

Our initial platform was very close to with both amateur and professional tour guides. Most of the bookings we received then were from the few professional suppliers we had on our platform.

So we switched our business model to only allow professional suppliers and focus on products instead of guides, and made a large change to our user interface. We then pitched the prototype of this second version to potential investors.

What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?

Commission fee from bookings. Ads on our destination pages: both AdSense and banner advertising with strategic partners such as official tourism boards of a certain destination.

SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?


  • Automated and fully-fledged back-end system for suppliers, which keeps variable costs low. That means we can scale easily in terms of bookings.
  • Real-time information about price and availability for B2B partners.
  • Greater product diversity: Able to tap into long-tail content because we can handle both free-sale bookings for volume suppliers (e.g. London hop-on hop-off bus tour) and on-demand bookings for long-tail suppliers (e.g. bike tour through Hanoi).
  • Possibilities for expansion in German speaking area where Isango and Viator don’t have a strong presence yet.
  • Cooperation with tourism boards because of supplier transparency
  • Speed: 1100 products in 4 months and our acquisition speed is accelerating.
  • Low burn-rate. The activities segment is one where timing is tricky. It is almost necessary to educate the market (both suppliers, B2B partners and customers), which takes time.


  • Lacking product variety compared to Viator/Isango. We only have 1100 products, which we acquired within 4 months of active acquisition.
  • Difficult to compete on SEO because we are competing here with both our suppliers and aggregators like Viator and Isango. Same with SEM.
  • Acquisition speed can be a boomerang: suppliers need to be kept happy so we need to drive bookings to them fast, which can be difficult in the short-term because our strategy is long-term.


  • Huge untapped market potential globally and especially in the German-speaking area.
  • No online standards in the market because most of the global activities content is offline
  • Trend towards value-added travel where people are not content with just staying at a hotel anymore. People want to experience more and are willing to pay for it, too.
  • Customers are getting more and more comfortable with booking travel online.


  • Is the market (suppliers, B2B partners, customers) really ready for booking activities online? If so, why hasn’t Viator succeeded in 10 years?
  • Based on Porter’s 5 Forces, the threat may not come from competitors but more from substitute products such as Google Tours, Yelp, Google’s new place pages, online guides like Tripadvisor and Tripwolf, and simply better on-location procurement of tours and activities, i.e. through local tourism bureaus and better marketing presence of ground handlers (suppliers) at their home destinations.

Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?

Some executives at hotel chains, OTAs and large tour operators who either argued that 1) the activities sector is too crowded or 2) people do not pre-book activities online.

Why didn’t we listen? Mainly because we think nobody has quite got the activities sector right yet. We think that none of the incumbents are striking a good middle ground between creating a complex GDS for tours & activities or simply driving bookings.

The former solutions tend to demand too much from suppliers (CRM systems, XML feeds, etc) which hinders building enough global content and the latter does not do anything to innovate the market or drive standardization (lack of transparency, lack of diversity, etc). Nobody has the content online and we can get that content online.

On the issue of pre-booking behaviour: we think it’s a timing issue and there are lots of points of decisions for potential customers, such as pre-trip emails via our distribution partners just to mention one example (Expedia has been able to create two-digit conversion rates from pre-trip emails).

Ultimately, we think that the opportunities in this market are too large to be ignored. In this final frontier of online travel distribution, whoever can get it right, will be the next big thing in online travel.

What is your success metric 12 months from now?

Close to break-even. Close to the product variety of Viator, which  has around 5,000 products.

TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.
To be featured as a startup in TLabs Showcase or to demonstrate a new product, email Tnooz for more details.

tlabs logo microscope

TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.

To be featured as a startup in TLabs Showcase or to demonstrate a new product, email Tnooz for more details.

Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.



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  2. Christiane

    We are a partner of GetYourGuide and we really do enjoy working with the guys being professional and prompt. Thumbs up and best of luck!

  3. Stephen Joyce

    It sounds to me like some tour and activity messaging standards would really open up the opportunity for all of you (ie. GetYourGuide, Viator, isango!, and others) to connect directly to supplier inventory systems so you can do real-time inventory and delivery of content without having to manage content yourselves or build back-end management systems/extranets. Although there are certainly benefits to all these platforms, the competition for eyeballs is going to drive more demand for niche sites or specialty categories. I’d be interested to see how you differentiate yourselves.

  4. Tao


    Your business has certainly earned the gold standard in the activities business. One just needs to look at the traffic numbers or your reviews, which is also in line with your second point. My hats off to that.

    You guys have been pioneering this market segment for more than a decade and you have both created market awareness and inspired start-ups like isango, GetYourGuide and many others. Anyone competing against Viator must bring something new to the table and that alone is proof to your success. There are few travel companies that we respect more at GetYourGuide.

    On the other hand, I also hold Viator to different standards. Success for me means Amazon or eBay. And even though half of “Viator hasn’t succeeded” was tongue in cheek, when you consider the potential global market size of tours & activities and the lack of international competition, I think it’s a valid point, especially with regards to scaleability and backend technology.

    And we do think think that we’re bringing something new to the table, i.e. the transparent marketplace approach for customers and supplier-driven product inventory. Whether it’s something that will work in travel, only time will tell, but it’s certainly an exciting time and exciting industry to be in.

    If you want, I’d love to continue this conversation at ITB.


  5. Kevin May

    Kevin May

    @rod: I think to your first point the wording may be confusing a they are being rhetorical about Viator’s success.

    You are right on the second point.

    But equally there are plenty of others who are never recognised.

  6. rod cuthbert

    First of all, well done to Johannes and his team on a great website. I’m sure they are going to have plenty of success! But a couple of things I need to take exception to:

    1. “If so, why hasn’t Viator succeeded in 10 years?”

    Huh? Well, we’re a private company so we don’t publish our results, but I could provide some insight by saying Viator is a profitable business with extremely happy investors, customers and staff. Check out some of the 150,000 (genuine) reviews on our site to see for yourself. If there are some other measures of success I should be looking at, let me know.

    2. The constant comparisons to iSango would lead an uninformed reader to believe that Viator and iSango are alike. And perhaps we are in some respects, but we’re also ten (twelve?) times bigger in revenue terms, by our estimates; and we focus 100% on activities, while they don’t. Not really similar at all.

    Having said all that, it’s flattering to be held up as the “gold standard” in our market space… but I do think we’ve earned it.

  7. Sebastian

    I have met most of the GetYourGuide team in person, and I have to say that I’m impressed by the clarity of their vision and their focused, dedicated approach – good guys! Though they mention tripwolf as a potential threat, but I’m sure we’ll end up working with them ;)

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