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Tobias Rein, Co-founder and Principal Engineer at GetYourGuide, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #283 - Tobias Rein: Going Back to the Drawing Board

Tobias Rein

December 15, 2022

05:00- The Change in the Travel Market

16:10 - GetYourGuide’s Business Model

30:38 - The Dawn of the Pandemic

39:13 - Growth Strategies

49:22 - Navigating the Future

About Tobias Rein:

Tobias Rein is the co-founder and Principal Engineer at GetYourGuide, a leading online booking platform for travel experiences. He studied Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich). During his studies, he also worked for the design agency, Palindrome. In 2009, he and his four co-founders had an idea to create a marketplace for tours and activities, and from there GetYourGuide was born.

What started out as a concept targeted at students morphed into a platform with a B2B business model aimed at professional suppliers and businesses, since students weren’t as interested in the initial concept of GetYourGuide as the team initially assumed. After they launched the prototype, companies started reaching out to them to get on the platform, which they took as a sign to go back to the drawing board and launch GetYourGuide 2.0, a platform for professional suppliers.

Tobias thinks timing is one of the keys to any successful business model, especially businesses in the travel market. At the time GetYourGuide started, travel was just beginning to move slowly online. They decided to adapt to the market and created GetYourGuide as a forerunner of the online travel era in terms of online booking experiences. As they grew, new products started to launch in the market, and Google became one of their biggest competitors by integrating booking features in its software. In 2017,  “Reserve with Google” was launched, which enabled customers to book tours and activities from local businesses directly through Google Maps, Google Search or the Reserve with Google platform. Tobias believes that the key to standing out from big competitors such as Google is to provide unmatched customer service and to have a solid knowledge of the brand. 

In 2020, the pandemic disturbed travel as we knew it, and GetYourGuide, along with many other travel platforms, was deeply affected. With the rise in their competitor’s leverage and the onset of covid-19, Tobias and his team incorporated three main principles to help them outlive the crisis: 

  1. Saving money
  2. Staying together as a team
  3. Prioritizing customer satisfaction

By doing this, they canceled tours that were no longer possible and set up a hassle-free process to refund customers. They avoided mass layoffs, though inevitably letting go of a few people. Finally, they were more frugal with their expenses, getting rid of non-essential items they were no longer using. Despite the changes they had to go through, Tobias believes that this experience made them more resilient and better prepared for any upcoming challenges. Post-pandemic, GetYourGuide has been redeemed, seeing their revenue skyrocket since borders have opened up.  

Tobias reflects on the growth of GetYourGuide, from when they started in 2009 with just five founders, to managing over 700 employees to surviving a pandemic and now booming in the post-pandemic era. He advises that growth is slow, and encourages founders to take the time to reflect. He also urges founders to hire external people who exceed their knowledge, so that they can learn from them, which he believes will in return foster incalculable personal growth.

Memorable Quotes:

“I would rather go on the safe path of adapting to the market, rather than trying to change the market”

“Motivation and passion are only half of it”

If you want to listen to more episodes talking about other platforms made for travellers, check out our conversation with Oliver Huber, founder of Nomady.

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