HomeFundingSwiss travel tech startup Viatu jets off with $1 million for its...

Swiss travel tech startup Viatu jets off with $1 million for its sustainable booking platform

Swiss startup Viatu has just secured $1 million (€906k) for its platform that aims to simplify the booking process of sustainable travel and adventures. The travel tech team now plans to expand its offering and continue to reshape modern travel.

Travel has changed drastically over recent years and it’s now increasingly influenced by personalisation, accessibility, and sustainability.

When it comes to booking holidays, it’s reported that people spend an average of more than 10 hours in the weeks leading up to their holidays. They have to search amongst various websites and resources. Multi-locational trips, with a number of different itineraries and activities, can take even longer. Booking holidays is time-consuming, complex and inefficient. To make it simpler, some opt for a travel agent – but this can be slow and costly, and lacking in personal taste. At the same time, travellers are increasingly looking for more sustainable options. Sustainable travel is the present – and it needs to be, given the travel and tourism sector is responsible for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Viatu, a Zug-based startup, is on a mission to create a solution to these two issues. The startup has developed a platform that simplifies the booking process for multi-day sustainable adventures.

Viatu has just secured $1 million (€906k) in fresh funding to scale. The funding was led by Ndoto LLC and includes participation from ASI Reisen, and a number of prominent angels, such as ex-Uber and founder of Ambo Ventures and Kenyan-based lodge Emboo Camp, Loic Amado.

Founded in 2020 by Alfredo Seidemann (CEO), Johan Bodenstein (CTO) and Bárbara Buchel (Chief Impact Officer), Viatu offers a data-driven, customisable trip builder. It makes travel more responsible and sustainable as well as providing live pricing and availability, thanks to API plug-ins. It aims to give travellers more control, ownership and transparency of their adventures.

Bárbara Buchel, Co-founder and Chief Impact Officer at Viatu: “Viatu aims to transform a process which could take up to two weeks, either individually or through a travel agent, into something that will take minutes. For example, we had a situation where a customer’s flight to Costa Rica had been cancelled, so they ended up planning and rebooking an entirely new two-week trip to Namibia while at the airport using Viatu, and within the hour they were boarding a flight to Windhoek”. 

The platform enables users to book every aspect of their itinerary – from accommodation to experiences, to car rental – through a single platform, enabling so-called ‘connected trip’ experiences.

The goal is to make trip planning a fast, instant and transparent experience.

The company claims that its trip builder can cut the searching and booking process from weeks to minutes. With 63% of consumers in the US saying that it’s important for them to use a smartphone when planning and booking a trip, having the availability of a fully connected travel experience in one place is crucial.

Whilst sustainability and ease of booking are paramount to travellers today, so is the ability to craft unique travel experiences. The social media generation wants to share their travel plans, but, oftentimes, a destination like these are even more challenging to plan trips in due to the lack of available information and knowledge of where to go, how to book, and the best way to travel between multiple and unfamiliar locations in-country.

Viatu aims to solve this too by making unusual trips more bookable through easy-to-access information available through its platform.

“We created Viatu to take the guesswork and extensive manual labour out of booking sustainable travel, and empower travellers to become an active force in enriching local environments, economies, and communities. The additional funding will allow us to further develop our platform to make arranging an adventure holiday from your smartphone as easy as booking a taxi or ordering a takeaway.”

Currently, the Swiss team specialises in trips to sub-Saharan African destinations, such as Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, and South Africa, and users can choose from a number of experiences, including eco-luxury getaways in the Etosha National Park, following Cape Town’s Garden Route, and spotting the ‘Big Five’ in the Okavango Delta.

To ensure customers and users are travelling sustainability and fully informed about the impact of travel and tourism on the environment, Viatu is only offering destinations with sound environmental, social and economic credentials that are in line with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Destination criteria. Viatu’s service providers, including safari specialists Gondwana, Wilderness, &Beyond, Asilia, Natural Selection, and Singita, are all scored using the Green Globe International Standard for Sustainable Tourism metrics.

The company also has users sign the ‘Viatu Travellers Pledge’ which outlines responsible tourism practices, including cultural and environmental considerations.

This is in addition to integration with offsetting API SQUAKE, which powers precise carbon calculations for all types of activities, including self-drive stretches and hotel stays. This enables Viatu to either make climate contributions and directly purchase the relevant credits on behalf of their users automatically once the trip is completed, for example purchasing carbon credits from the Wonderbag climate project in South Africa,.

With this fresh funding, Viatu will finish building its direct booking system and launch the interface to its customers whilst continuously improving the functionality of the product based on customer experience and feedback.

Susan Miller, Co-founder of Ndoto LLC: “We are big believers in Viatu’s vision to make sustainable travel simpler and easier for everyone. Viatu has proven that travel can be a force to enrich local communities by offering opportunities, as well as helping to promote self-expansion and an appreciation for the natural world around us.”

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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