Travel booking platform GetYourGuide plans to grow its UK team following a mammoth $484 million investment round.

The Series E financing led by the SoftBank Vision Fund has given the German company tech unicorn status.

“We intend to grow our global team from currently around 500 to 800 worldwide by the end of the year,” a spokesperson told BusinessCloud.

“Our team in the UK currently counts five people and is growing: we have another team member starting in summer in the London office.

“The goal for the UK is to get the best experiences out there onto our platform and at the same time to help UK travellers to find and book the best experiences in the world.” 

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The financing round was joined by co-investors Temasek, Lakestar, Korelya Capital and Heartcore Capital (formerly Sunstone Capital), while original investors such as Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank continued their support of the company.

As part of the investment, Ted Fike, Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join GetYourGuide’s board of directors.

The global market for tours and activities is expected to reach $183 billion in 2020 and represents the fastest-growing major segment of the global tourism industry.

To capture the market opportunity, GetYourGuide plans to invest the Series E funding in broadening its global inventory of experiences, deepening the capabilities of its platform to enhance the discovery and booking experience for users, and expanding and diversifying its marketing channels to reach millions of new travellers around the world.

“Today’s consumers prioritize seeking and sharing experiences over material possessions, and we expect this trend to accelerate in the years ahead,” said Johannes Reck, CEO and co-founder.

“We’ve spent the past decade building a market-leading company around our mission to give the whole world access to incredible travel experiences.

“In the SoftBank Vision Fund, we’ve found a partner that shares our bold mission and our long-term view of how this fundamental consumer shift will impact global travel. We’re incredibly excited about the journey ahead of us.”

The Series E financing comes at a time of significant growth and evolution for GetYourGuide, which has now sold over 25 million tickets to tours and activities through its platform.

In the past year, GetYourGuide was recognised by Fast Company as a 2018 Most Innovative Company for expanding its mission to redefine the in-destination experience through its signature line of GetYourGuide Originals, exclusive branded products it has built from the ground up in partnership with top tour operators.

Originals have sold over 40,000 tickets and have achieved 30 percent above average reviews from customers since launching in August 2018. In the year ahead, GetYourGuide anticipates continued expansion and innovation for Originals, with at least 25 new destinations and significant product enhancements slated for rollout.

Ted Fike, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said: “Consumers, especially millennials, are spending an increasing portion of their disposable income on travel experiences.

“We believe GetYourGuide is leading this seismic shift by consolidating the fragmented global supply base of tour operators and modernizing access for travellers globally.

“This combination creates powerful network effects for their business that is fuelling their strong growth. We are excited to partner with their passionate and talented leadership team.”