It is exciting times for the online travel industry. Already, millions of people are using the web to plan trips and book tickets, and with rapidly increasing reach of the internet around world, millions more will join in time to come.

Presuming the arrival of online travel startups in untapped (and partially untapped) markets and further saturation of industry in existing markets, a Statista study predicts a steady, positive growth in online travel sales in coming years.

Trends, stats, and predictions all appear to be in the favour of new travel startups, which they actually are. However, opportunities alone do not ensure success. Understanding customers, competition, technology, marketing channels, etc., is also vital to start a sustainable business.

To help you on the subject, here we have assembled a list of the most successful travel startups, their key offerings, and takeaway for new players from their growth tactics. (After all, what’s better resource to learn from than existing success stories?)

Let’s begin.


Founded in 2008 in Berlin, GetYourGuide helps travellers find local guides, explore activities, and book them. With over 30,000 activities in 7,000+ destinations, the company takes pride in being the biggest online inventory of tour & travel activities. Today, GetYourGuide is a dominant player in the North American & European Market, and also offers its service on-the-go via Android & iOS apps.

  • Headquarters: Berlin
  • Fund raised: $95.5 million

Takeaway for startups

Capitalizing on its large inventory, GetYourGuide offers customers the option to compare different tour operators/suppliers in same location, enabling them to land the best deal. Plus, according to CEO Johannes Reck, their focus on customers, product, market and opportunity has played the key role in company’s success over the years.


Peek takes the online travel booking services one step further by offering value-added services such as corporate activities, local food tasting, lessons scheduling in travel destinations,& same-day booking (via desktop & mobile both). A San Francisco-based travel startup, Peek primarily operates in North America, and recently raised $10 million to make its local activity booking & scheduling software more efficient.

  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Fund raised: $16.9 million

Takeaway for startups

With its array of value added services, there is a lot that upcoming travel startups can learn from Peek. Another highlight is its image attribution initiative that gives credits to photographers who curate the pictures for the website. Such initiative will definitely smoothen up the website setup process, and will also assist in branding. A little market research and going through guides on building travel activity booking website can bring you more such ideas.

Also read: Over 8 in 10 of travellers go online, but do not find the services they want


The oldest player in the online travel industry, Viator was launched in 1995, and is now acquired by online travel review platform TripAdvisor. Viator is the prime competitor of GetYourGuide in North America & Europe, and also has a firm presence in Australia & India. For mobile users, Viator has separate apps for iPhone, iPad& Android; as well as a dedicated mobile website.

  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Fund raised: Acquired by TripAdvisor in 2014 for $200 million (raised $11.1 before the acquisition)

Takeaway for startups

Viator’s approach to curate selected suppliers in a given destination is more favourable for new players, than GetYourGuide’s ‘list them all’ approach. Viator’s focus on mobile & its multi-lingual website are other specialties that prospect travel startups should pay attention to. Using a customisable turnkey solution for building your travel activity booking website can take care of such requirements easily.


Launched in 2005, Agoda is a Thailand based travel startup for booking flights & lodgings. Within two years of its inception, Agoda was acquired by the Priceline group. Agoda offers its services in 40 languages and is the most dominant played in the South-east Asia. The company offers its full booking services on its mobile apps as well (for both iOS & Android).

  • Headquarters: Thailand
  • Fund raised: Not available
  • Revenue: Not Available

Takeaway for startups

According to Agoda’s President Director RobertRosentein, extensive hotel management system, rewards program and simplicity of the platform have played crucial role in the company’s success. Apart from that, Agoda’s effort in providing localised services in each of its target markets has also helped it stand out the competition.


Latin America’s leading online travel booking platform, Decolar was launched in 1999 and offers its services in 21 countries (primarily, in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries). Decolar offers booking of travel tickets, accommodations, and tour packages, as well as car rentals through website and mobile apps. In 2002, it partnered with Expedia to extend its reach. Today, Decolar has direct links with over 35,000 properties in Latin America to smoothen accommodation booking.

  • Headquarters: Guarulhos, Sao Paulo
  • Fund raised: $270 million
  • Revenue: $4 billion (in booking, 2015)

Takeaway for startups

Localised service and expanding business to car rentals are the prime takeaways from Decolar. Other than that, its strategy to associate with a larger, well-established brand (Expedia) is another tactic startups can try to reach wider & gain more brand recognition.

Also read: Over 8 in 10 of travellers go online, but do not find the services they want


India-based Thrillophilia is the largest online travel and activity booking platform in the Indian subcontinent. Thrillophilia offers over 8,000 activities listed from 3,500+ operators across India and from 15+other countries in Asia. Thrillophilia’s mobile app offers some exciting features such as making travel bookings with friends and suggesting activities based on browsing history.

  • Headquarters: Bangalore, India
  • Fund raised: $260K + undisclosed Series A funding in 2015

Takeaway for startups

Value-added mobile app features are some obvious takeaways here. Additionally, when targeting mobile, the company allocated its resources mindfully & launched only Android app (considering Indian smartphone) instead of stretching efforts to cater multiple platforms at once, which might put businesses in a dire position.


Launched in 2012, Voyagin quickly became Japan’s largest and one of Asia’s leading curators of travel activities (including offbeat tours hosted by locals) within a couple years. In 2015, Japan’s leading e-commerce platform Rakuten acquired Voyagin.  The recent depreciation of Japanese Yen, which increased the influx of foreign travelers in country, also helped the company to grow its business. Voyagin is also a multi-lingual & multi-currency platform.

  • Headquarters: Tokyo
  • Fund raised: Acquired by Rakuten

Takeaway for startups

Capitalising on trend, offering local offbeat experiences, and localised services in target market are some of the plus points that have helped Voyagin grow rapidly. In addition, being a startup of a nation known for its courteous culture, Voyagin’s customer service is also above standard.


Leezair is a mobile based travel startup that helps people find activities & experiences of their interests near them on-the-go. This Australia based startup, launched in late 2014, strives to fill the gap left behind by other travel startups, whose services are limited to booking & scheduling activities beforehand,and do not help travellers explore on-going events once they are actually there.

  • Headquarters: Sydney, Australia
  • Fund raised: Amount undisclosed

Takeaway for startups

Leezair’s mobile focused, real-time, & custom-tailored services definitely stand out as something unique & of value. Plus, offering personalised services by collecting users’ interests has also helped Leezair gel well with its target audience.


TourRadar is an Austria-Australia based travel startup, which at first look appears like any other travel activity website, but has its differences. The online platform particularly strives to offer customers that other platforms don’t. It offers multi-days tours that are usually hard to sell. Recently, the website also started selling river cruises, which is another complex product to sell. But it is these endeavours that make TourRadar a top online referrer of travellers.

  • Headquarters: Vienna, Austria
  • Fund raised: $6.5 million

Takeaway for startups

TourRadar puts customers first – not what will benefit the most. The company points out the areas within the online travel activity sector, which are being ignored/avoided for being less profitable, and makes sure customers are provided with that options.


Another San Francisco based travel startup that besides being a travel activity booking marketplace also offers tour management software suite, which helps tour operators manage their business & bookings more efficiently. According to the company’ website, Zozi has presence in over 90 countries & has served more than 5 million travellers to date.

  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Fund raised: U$44.3 million

Takeaway for startups

Zozi’s innovative tour and activity management software definitely is the biggest highlight here. Offering such a tool will consume a good amount of resources, but it will make your online travel business a favourite to tour operators; thus, will ultimately help you gaining desired traction.


The online travel sector is evolving rapidly and will continue to for some time. There is still a sizeable inventory of untapped markets that creates opportunities for new players. In addition, mobile booking and personalisation through data collection have opened doors for innovation in the sector for enhancing customer experience.

For prospective travel startups, understanding these ongoing reforms is important to capitalise on the huge amount of opportunities that this sector offers currently.


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