Former Booking.com CEO invests in profitable vacation rental company during COVID

Holidu app
Holidu, one of the fastest-growing travel tech companies worldwide, announced that former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen has invested more than €4 million into the company from his personal fund as part of a €5 million extension to the €40 million Series C round of the previous year.

The funding follows a period of accelerated growth for Holidu in spite of the general turbulence in the travel market due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company turned profitable in May and since then generated seven-digit positive EBIT figures.

In July alone, more than 27 million users visited the Holidu website, resulting in a 2.6x growth in year-on-year bookings and more than €130 million of newly generated bookings that month.

Founded by brothers Johannes and Michael Siebers in 2014, Holidu’s mission is to finally make the search and booking of vacation rentals easy via its two synergistic business models in the space. On the one side, Holidu operates a search engine for vacation rentals.

Holidu founders Michael and Johannes Siebers
Holidu founders Michael and Johannes Siebers
This enables travellers to find and book their ideal accommodation for the lowest price by giving them access to all of the rentals listed by Holidu’s 1,000+ partners worldwide. On the other side, the company’s subsidiary Bookiply provides a software and service offering to vacation rental owners. This enables owners to increase their bookings with less work by distributing properties to the largest travel websites, synchronising calendars, and creating multilingual descriptions and professional photos.

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted travel behaviour substantially. It has increased the focus on domestic travel, led to more last-minute bookings and more premium accommodation choices according to Holidu’s internal data comparing July 2020 with the same month of the previous year:

  • The share of domestic bookings increased from 50% in July last year to 68% in July this year
  • Holidu’s travelers had booked their July holiday on average 38 days in advance this year compared to 59 days in advance last year
  • The average price per night in July 2020 was €154 in 2020, 14% higher than in the previous year
“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,” said Johannes Siebers, Holidu co-founder and CEO.

“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 travellers to have a great summer vacation this year.”

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.”

“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,” said investor Kees Koolen.

Former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen
Former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen
“Over the five years I’ve been working with Holidu, my confidence in the team has only grown. On top of that, the entire company is centered around data and technology in a way that is unmatched in the industry.”

Headquartered in Munich, Holidu now has a team of more than 200 people and closed its €40 million Series C round led by Prime Ventures in 2019. Kees Koolen has been an active board member in Holidu since 2016, both during his time as partner at EQT Ventures and later in his role as advisor to EQT Ventures.

The company plans to use the funding to grow the business in lights of shifting consumer habits.

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