Travel services site Withlocals raises $4.2 million

13 Oct 2017

Dutch travel services site Withlocals raised $4.2 million U.S. in a Series A round from Inkef Capital and several other investors. Eindhoven-based Withlocals helps travelers find locals offering their services as tour guides or hosts. In essence, it’s a c-to-c jobs site. 

The site latched on to one dimension of the Airbnb offer labeled Experiences (here), and built it into a new niche with a global reach. In total, 10,000 people currently offer their services (or local knowledge and expertise) as hosts on the site. They do it from 22 countries (here). The site is available in four languages: English, Dutch, German and Spanish.

Apart from tours, Eat Withlocals promises a meal at a local family’s home, at below-restaurant prices. Activities Withlocals is where you book your local expert to guide you on your chosen activity, experience and/or workshop.

Matthijs Kij, CEO of Withlocals in the Netherlands (photo from his LinkedIn page with thanks)

Withlocals pitches itself as an alternative to mass-market travel packages and tour services, Techcrunch reported.

When someone lists his service (wants to become a host), Withlocals sends a so-called ambassador to verify that the person has the skills and experience to become a host. If the ambassador is convinced, the listing goes live. 

Hosts have on-site dashboards where they receive and manage their bookings; payment for services are done via the site; Withlocals keeps 20 percent back as a service fee.

The start-up currently lists 1,200 “fully-customizable”, private tours and activities and aims to capture 20 percent of this new market segment, in which Airbnb probably is the global leader. (The section Experiences on Airbnb turns the accommodation site into a global jobs (or gigs) site – editor.)

Withlocals is present in 50 cities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Its top destinations are Rome, Bangkok, Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Berlin, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai.

One-size-fits-all mass tourism is coming to an end, and travelers are looking to get off the TripAdvisor circuit, and into more unique experiences, said the CEO Matthijs Keij.

Headquartered in Eindhoven, Withlocals was launched in 2013 and today employs around 100 people.

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Anastasia Gnezditskaia

Anastasia Gnezditskaia has joined AIM Group in 2014 as a writer/analyst covering France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Eastern Europe. A Russian living in Antwerp, Belgium, she has a background working for trade publications covering markets and their regulation. She is educated at Moscow State Lomonosov University (MA in psychology) and Central European University (PhD in public policy). After obtaining her doctoral degree, she taught international political economy at George Washington University in Washington DC where she lived for 10 years. Following this she managed international development projects in Africa at the World Bank, and worked as a journalist covering Congress, federal government agencies and commodity markets, particularly shale gas development in North America.