Melbourne-based travel marketplace Designer Journeys has raised $3.5 million in capital funding as the travel sector rebounds and excitement grows amongst Australians who are no longer tied down by travel restrictions.
The announcement comes amidst of a flurry of activity in the space, such as Global Work & Travel expanding into tours, MyDeal (ASX: MYD) launching a tourism and experiences marketplace, and Travello's $6.5 million Series A round in mid-2021.
Designer Journeys offers customers tailored travel itineraries, with its vital point of difference being its technology-enabled platform and an on-the-ground global network of ‘travel designers’.
The raise, led by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) and supported by new and existing investors, will allow the business to fast track the development and rollout of improved technologies and apps while expanding its network of local travel designers and concierges.
“Our ambition is to be a leading global marketplace for agents and consumers seeking designed travel experiences, and this capital raising enables us to make a significant investment in technology, marketing and people to propel us towards this goal,” Designer Journeys’ CEO and managing director Matt McCann said.
“We’ve evolved the way in which agents and consumers can create and book tailored travel experiences in response to high demand as the sector emerges from COVID,” added McCann, who was previously CEO of tech-businesses iSelect, Local Agent Finder and Compare the Market.
“Designer Journeys is a fast-growth travel marketplace that provides agents, as well as consumers, with unparalleled knowledge and access to current information and tailored itineraries sourced from vetted local travel designers in 72 countries around the world,” he added.
From discovering the idyllic Sicilian countryside at the tip of Italy’s boot to exploring Iguazu Falls, straddling the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, Designer Journeys caters for all types of travel and travellers – even those who are just happy to sit down and enjoy a pint of the ‘black stuff’ from the Guinness storehouse in Dublin.
Founded in 2019 and formerly known as Tripfuser, the business currently has more than 2,000 itineraries on its marketplace. Its global network of 200 local expert designers uses their ‘on the ground’ knowledge to design, build and deliver unique travel experiences.
Servicing both the direct-to-consumer market and brokers, the business has signed up more than 1,000 new Australian travel agents in the past five months, indicating the appetite in the system for post-pandemic travel.
“Our platform will help them deliver unique, premium travel itineraries and high-quality customer experiences to their clients,” McCann said.
“Currently, we’re seeing US demand for travel to Europe, despite military action in Ukraine, as well as strong domestic and Pacific Island demand in Australia.
“We expect European demand from Australian customers to be very strong in the next three months as Australians seem ready to travel again.”
Essential amongst the innovations Designer Journeys will look to deploy is its mobile traveller app, which will provide travellers with instant access to the 24-hour local travel designer support.
With its team located across Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, USA, Japan, Germany, and Vietnam, customers can choose experiences from 73 countries.
The business is looking to address the fast-growing tailored travel segment, which has emerged in response to strong demand from travellers for premium experiences designed to their specific needs. The marketplace is currently receiving the most interest from people based in Australia and North America,
“We are excited to provide a premium level of information and support for every Designer Journeys’ traveller. Something that will be critical in a post-covid world where coping with travel changes will be the new normal,” McCann said.
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