London, 21 March 2019 – The Plum Guide has raised £14m from some of Europe’s leading early-stage investors to support its ambitious rollout to 12 new cities this year. Known as the “Michelin Guide for Homes”, The Plum Guide differs from mass market booking platforms by selecting only the top 1% of properties in any city to feature on its site. By the end of 2019 it expects to offer almost 12,000 verified homes in the most sought-after cities for holiday rentals, with 100 new hires being made to support its growth ambitions.
The latest funding round is led by Talis Capital, with participation from Latitude and Hearst Ventures, as well as Octopus Ventures – who led the Series A funding round.
The Plum Guide uses hospitality industry experts to vet every property in person and applies a scientific Plum Guide test – which covers 150 points from proximity to cafes and transport, to speed of WiFi – when selecting which homes to feature. Since launching in London in 2015, The Plum Guide has achieved year-on-year growth of three times revenues, for three years’ running. In 2018, it added homes in five new cities to the platform and saw repeat bookings jump 27% after it opened in Paris, its second location after London. The key to its success has been customer referrals, which drive a quarter of all bookings.
“We are on a mission to build a marketplace of the world’s most beautiful holiday homes. This isn’t some vague qualitative ambition. We mean it. We are taking a systematic and obsessive approach to vetting every single home on the planet and accepting only the top 1%,” Doron Meyassed, Founder and CEO of The Plum Guide, said.
The Plum Guide was founded to solve the problem of inconsistent quality, encountered by anyone booking a vacation rental online. Most open marketplaces rely on peer-to-peer review systems to judge quality, but standards vary hugely in reality. The Plum Guide instead uses a rigorous testing approach that aims to guarantee consistent quality every time.
It uses a proprietary algorithm to find the highest rated and best located homes in a city. Expert hospitality critics from The Plum Guide then visit each home to interview the host and meticulously test the property. Ultimately, only 1 out of every 100 properties in each city is invited to join the collection.
The approach has resonated with a lucrative customer segment of mature affluent individuals, who make up the majority of Plum’s 1.3 million global user base. “Most rental platforms are trying to get as many people as possible to use their site. We are clearly targeting a highly discerning group of affluent professionals that live in global megacities, love to travel and value great design, quality and locations,” says Meyassed. “Previously they have stayed away from the open marketplace booking platforms, which they consider too risky compared with the reassurance that a hotel provides.”
The Plum Guide has innovated relentlessly on meeting the needs of this customer, through a unique mix of expert property curation, impartial and trustworthy vetting processes and outstanding customer service through its team of MatchMakers. It has achieved customer satisfaction scores that outperform industry peers in a sector notorious for over-promising but under-delivering.
Matus Maar, Managing Partner and Co Founder at Talis Capital, said: “The consumer market has entered into an age of curation where data, ratings and reviews need to be carved into useful information to support buying decisions. We see huge value in businesses and teams that create a competitive advantage by being strategically data driven. The Plum Guide has something very special and customers are already showing amazing loyalty for its hand-picked and meticulously-vetted holiday rentals. In Doron, we have also found a determined, highly ambitious and creative entrepreneur with a track record of building a successful business that competes at the very highest levels.”
Megumi Ikeda, managing director Hearst Ventures, said: “The Plum Guide appeals strongly to the affluent, discriminating traveller as we have seen in its impressive growth in the last three years. Endorsement from professional critics and experts has always been worth having and holiday accommodation is no exception to this rule. As The Plum Guide adds more cities, it will become even more useful to the customer base who are already convinced by its rigorous approach to vetting properties.”
George Henry, partner at LocalGlobe, said: ““Travel and accommodation continues to be a fast-growing market but the supply has become incredibly fragmented, especially in the p2p market. As consumer travel has always suffered from a very low NPS, we believe that a differentiated brand offering a more hands-on service powered by expert curation and data is going to continue to deliver a very unique experience. We are excited to be able to follow on our seed investment in The Plum Guide, which has a keen understanding and eye for detail of what is possible as it rolls out its highly-selective, highly targeted product across new cities and countries.”
Zihao Xu, Early Stage Investor at Octopus Ventures, commented: “The more cities The Plum Guide is in the better it will be for all its customers. We’re excited to continue supporting Doron and the team in taking the company truly global, and building out their vision of what an iconic hospitality brand in the 21st century should be.”
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About The Plum Guide: The Plum Guide is a curated collection of the best holiday rentals available in leading international cities. Listing in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Rome and New York. The Plum Guide rigorously tests and handpicks only the cream of the crop of rental properties so that customers need never worry about their travel accommodation. For beautiful holiday homes, see: www.plumguide.com
About Talis Capital: Talis Capital is a venture capital investment firm that takes smart money from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people and invests it strategically in early stage technology companies with global potential. Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Ynsect and Oh My Green. Focused on building long-term partnerships, Talis leverages its network to give some of the world’s most innovative startups opportunity to thrive. For more see www.taliscapital.com.
About Hearst Ventures: Hearst Ventures is a global investment group that makes strategic investments in fast-growing companies in the media and technology sectors. Since its initial investment in Netscape in 1995, the group has grown to become one of the most active and successful corporate venture funds, with more than $1 billion in strategic investments in companies including BuzzFeed, E Ink, Hootsuite, Pandora, Roku, Via and XM Satellite Radio. Visit http://www.hearst.com/ventures.
About LocalGlobe: LocalGlobe is a UK-based venture capital firm that focuses on seed investments. Seeding ambitious UK founders since 1999 including Transferwise, Zoopla, Improbable, Citymapper, Algolia and Robinhood. Visit https://localglobe.vc/.
About Octopus Ventures: Octopus Ventures, part of Octopus Group, is a leading European venture capital firm that helps pioneering entrepreneurs change the world by taking ideas from inception to international scale-up. Where there is change there is huge entrepreneurial opportunity, particularly in three key areas; industry, money and health. We’ve refined our focus towards these specialisms to discover the next generation of innovators. Octopus Ventures is headquartered in London and New York, with Venture Partners in San Francisco, Shanghai and Singapore who offer exclusive insight and advice to our portfolio companies looking to expand into new markets. Octopus Ventures has supported over 70 outstanding entrepreneurs that are leading the way in disrupting their industries. Companies backed in recent years include allplants, Elvie, Depop, Big Health, graze.com, Eve, Magic Pony, Secret Escapes, Sofar Sounds, Swiftkey, Swoon Editions, tails.com and Zoopla Property Group. Octopus is a group of companies that are experts in start-ups, renewable energy and healthcare infrastructure. Octopus Group currently manage more than £8.5 billion on behalf of our customers. Octopus Energy, Octopus Healthcare, Octopus Investments, Octopus Labs, Octopus Property and Octopus Ventures are all part of Octopus Group. Visit octopusgroup.com.