London: The Plum Guide has raised £14m in a Series B funding round from some of Europe’s leading early-stage investors in anticipation for the company’s rollout to 12 more cities this year.
The Plum Guide differs from mass market booking platforms by selecting only the top one per cent of properties in any city to feature on its site. By the end of 2019, it aims to offer up to 12,000 verified homes in the most sought-after cities for holiday rentals, with 100 additional hires being made to support its growth ambitions.
The latest funding round is led by Talis Capital, with participation from Latitude and Hearst Ventures, as well as Octopus Ventures, who led the Series A funding round.
The Plum Guide uses hospitality industry experts to vet each property in person and applies a scientific test to select which homes to feature, which covers 150 points ranging from proximity to cafes and transport, to speed of Wi-Fi.
Since its launch in London in 2015, The Plum Guide has achieved year-on-year growth of three times revenues, for three consecutive years. In 2018, it added homes in five new cities to the platform and saw repeat bookings jump 27 per cent after it opened in Paris, its second location after London.
The Plum Guide stated the key to its success has been customer referrals, which drive a quarter of its overall bookings.
Plum Guide CEO and founder, Doron Meyassed, said: “We are on a mission to build a marketplace of the world’s most beautiful holiday homes. This isn’t some vague qualitative ambition – we mean it.
“We are taking a systematic and obsessive approach to vetting every single home on the planet and accepting only the top one per cent,” he added.
The Plum Guide was founded with the objective to solve the common problem of inconsistent quality, when customers look to book a vacation rental online.
Most open marketplaces rely on peer-to-peer review systems to judge quality, but standards vary hugely in reality. Instead, The Plum Guide claims it uses a rigorous testing approach that aims to guarantee consistent quality every time.
It uses a proprietary algorithm to find the highest rated and best located homes in a city. Expert hospitality critics from The Plum Guide then visit each home to interview the host and test the property and only one out of every 100 properties in each city is typically invited to join the collection.
Meyassed said: “Most rental platforms are trying to get as many people as possible to use their site. We are clearly targeting a highly discerning group of affluent professionals that live in global megacities, love to travel and value great design, quality and locations.
“Previously they have stayed away from the open marketplace booking platforms, which they consider too risky compared with the reassurance that a hotel provides,” he added.
Through a mix of expert property curation, impartial and trustworthy vetting processes and outstanding customer service through its team of MatchMakers, the Plum Guide has made customer satisfaction a prime consideration.
Matus Maar, managing partner and co-founder at Talis Capital, said: “The consumer market has entered into an age of curation where data, ratings and reviews need to be carved into useful information to support buying decisions. We see huge value in businesses and teams that create a competitive advantage by being strategically data driven.
“The Plum Guide has something very special and customers are already showing amazing loyalty for its hand-picked and meticulously-vetted holiday rentals. In Doron, we have also found a determined, highly ambitious and creative entrepreneur with a track record of building a successful business that competes at the very highest levels,” he added.
At the same time, the Plum Guide has announced it will focus this latest investment on expanding its reach and is scheduled to launch six new cities in April. The cities joining the platform’s lineup are Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Madrid and Tel Aviv.
Six further cities in the United States are scheduled to launch this summer.
Megumi Ikeda, managing director at Hearst Ventures, said: “The Plum Guide appeals strongly to the affluent, discriminating traveller as we have seen in its impressive growth in the last three years. Endorsement from professional critics and experts has always been worth having and holiday accommodation is no exception to this rule.
“As The Plum Guide adds more cities, it will become even more useful to the customer base who are already convinced by its rigorous approach to vetting properties,” she added.
George Henry, partner at LocalGlobe, said: ““Travel and accommodation continues to be a fast-growing market, but the supply has become incredibly fragmented, especially in the p2p market. As consumer travel has always suffered from a very low NPS, we believe that a differentiated brand offering a more hands-on service powered by expert curation and data is going to continue to deliver a very unique experience.
“We are excited to be able to follow on our seed investment in The Plum Guide, which has a keen understanding and eye for detail of what is possible as it rolls out its highly-selective, highly targeted product across new cities and countries,” he added.
Zihao Xu, early stage investor at Octopus Ventures, said: “The more cities The Plum Guide is in the better it will be for all its customers. We’re excited to continue supporting Doron and the team in taking the company truly global and building out their vision of what an iconic hospitality brand in the 21st century should be.”
For more information, visit The Plum Guide website here.