Rotterdam-based travel tech startup Vakanties.nl uses machine learning to bundle listings and personalize options on its booking engine for accommodations, rental cars, and flights.
has announced that it has received an investment of €5 million from Joost Romeijn from the Sunweb Group. The startup will use the investment to develop a non-linear chatbot, and hopes to serve 50,000 travellers next year.
“Joost Romeijn is not only involved as an entrepreneurial visionary who helps me by providing inspiration and coaching,” said Judith Eyck, co-founder and managing director of Vakanties.nl. “He is also once again putting more skin in the game. That puts us in a position to grow more quickly. Last year already, our revenues grew from €1 to €10 million. We hope to continue on that path of fast-paced growth.”
Eyck first had the idea for Vakanties.nl while booking a holiday for herself. “The travel agent asked me a few questions and, after that, I chose from three options for a trip to Gran Canaria,” she said. “I thought, isn’t it bizarre that this kind of personalized travel experience isn’t available online? Often, you have to go through thousands of options, and it’s easy to lose track of what you’re even looking at. Vakanties.nl solves that problem. Our ambition is to present travellers with three to five suitable options, based on an automated conversation with them, or using behavioural data. It’s just like a real travel agency, except online. Kind of like Netflix, but then for travel.”
“Whenever someone asks me what makes Vakanties.nl so special, I say that this company is uniquely built around making optimal use of data,” said Joost Romeijn. “In that regard, Vakanties.nl is operating on a par with Silicon Valley. That’s something that we in the Netherlands can all be proud of. The strong focus on data means it is much easier for Vakanties.nl to scale up the personalization of its offering than it is for its competitors.”
Vakanties.nl hopes to serve 50,000 travellers in the year ahead. The goal for 2024 is 250,000.
“This means our service must be better than what our competitors offer,” said Eyck. “That’s why we are currently working on developing our own chatbot that is smarter than other bots. Dealing with a non-linear bot like this is very much like having a conversation with a human. It can answer all the basic questions. That frees up my colleagues so they can spend more time on providing real service.”