Former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen, who has invested in Holidu [Credit: Kees Koolen]

Holidu secures €4m funding from former Booking CEO Koolen

Germany: Munich-based holiday rentals search engine Holidu has announced that Kees Koolen, the former CEO of Booking.com, has invested more than €4 million into the company from his personal fund.

The funding injection from Koolen is part of a €5 million extension to the €40 million Series C round that the company secured last year.

In spite of the general turbulence in the travel market due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Holidu has seen a period of accelerated growth, which saw the company turn profitable in May and since then generate 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 over €130 million in newly generated bookings that month.

Founded by brothers Johannes and Michael Siebers in 2014, Holidu’s mission is to make the search and booking of holiday rentals easier via its two synergistic business models in the space.

On the one side, Holidu operates a search engine for holiday rentals. 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 holiday 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 per cent in July last year to 68 per cent in July this year.
  • Holidu’s travellers 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 per cent higher than in the previous year.

Johannes Siebers, co-founder and CEO at Holidu, said: “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 holiday rentals are ideal. 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 holiday 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,” he added.

Koolen said: “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.

“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 centred around data and technology in a way that is unmatched in the industry,” he added.

Michael Siebers, co-founder and CTO at Holidu, added: “We’re thrilled to have Kees’ investment and his continued advice and support as board member. The funding will help us to seize the many opportunities for growth ahead and we want to be prepared for any future scenario.”

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.

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