Welcome Pickups, an Athens-based startup offering a range of “in-destination” travel services from the point of pickup onwards, has raised €3.3 million in Series A funding. The backing comes from VentureFriends, Market One Capital, Howzat, Jabbar, and Openfund. Also participating is Alejandro Artacho, who founded Spotahome, and John Tsioris, founder of Instashop.
Launched in Greece in 2015, Welcome Pickups believes it has spotted an opportunity that moves local travel services beyond a “commoditized transfer service” to a more holistic in-destination travel experience. The idea is that from the moment you arrive at a new destination and until departure, Welcome Pickups will be able to accommodate all of your travel needs, spanning transfers, travel products, things to do, and travel information.
“The travel experience after the flight and hotel booking step is broken,” says Welcome Pickups co-founder and CEO Alex Trimis. “[The] in-destination vertical is a multi-billion dollar opportunity that remains fragmented and offline. Welcome, starting from transportation, will become its leader while assisting players in the other two segments to offer a better and more complete service”.
Trimis says the startup turns airport transfer into a travel experience by using this first step as a gateway to cover all other in-destination needs. To achieve this, Welcome Pickups claims to be creating the most robust and complete in-destination travel data-set in existence.
“Apart from the traveler’s problems, we are also sorting out a number of partner problems,” adds Trimis. This includes helping hotels and other short stay providers personalise their guest experience and optimise operations through the use of Welcome Pickups’ data.
More broadly, the draw is that by “safeguarding” the travel experience at destination, return bookings and recommendations are a lot more likely to happen.
To that end, Welcome Pickups says that in 2018 the company serviced over 400,000 travellers in 32 destinations. It estimates that it will welcome over 1 million travellers in 2019, and says it now employs a team of 60 people, mainly in Athens and Barcelona.
Meanwhile, the Greek startup will use the new funding to expand its product offerings, strengthen the core team and increase the Welcome Pickups destination network. This will include adding more travel industry partners, such as cruise lines and airlines, and also enhance customer experience with a traveller app.