Germany’s HomeToGo startup launched in 2014, has by now become one of the world’s largest international meta-search systems for vacation rentals offers. It can currently search 11 million offers from 250 suppliers in 200 countries. Last October, the company got a new investments round. The current investors – Insight Venture Partners, Acton Capital Partners and DN Capital – were joined by a new investment fund, Global Founders Capital. Even though the amount of investments is not disclosed, it is known it is in the range of dozens of millions of dollars. Invest Foresight met with Patrick Andrae, HomeToGo founder and CEO, to discuss the prospects of the search business.
– What is the competitive advantage for a search or metasearch engine?
– Meta-search engine has an obvious advantage: they aggregate a large number of offers from multiple providers and provide users with a complete overview of the majority of available offers. From the users’ point of view, the main advantage of the meta-search system is that he gets an overview of all available options with just one click. HomeToGo takes over the time-consuming search on dozens of different websites for the user.
– What service can a metasearch engine provide to the client other than information?
– First of all, HomeToGo allows users to save time and money. Instead of browsing several sites in search of the most beneficial offer, getting used to the surface and navigation features on each of them, we collect all available vacation rentals on one page. By comparing prices of different providers and offering intuitive filters, HomeToGo offers results that suit best the users’ needs and interests. To facilitate the search as much as possible, HomeToGo offers its services free of any charge. That makes searching and finding the vacation rental that fits best the users’ needs most convenient: filters, range search, wishlist and much more support the holiday preparation.
– To what extent are search and metasearch systems representing two different market segments?
– Metasearch such as HomeToGo aggregates different providers and compare different offers on one site and therefore is able to display the best suiting offer to the ones searching for it. Whereas a search system is only searching, but not comparing the results. The user still needs to do the most time-consuming-part on his own: browse through a large list of search-results. HomeToGo helps to avoid this situation.
– What, in your opinion, are the most important trends in the Internet search market for housing?
– The main trend in the vacation rental market shows that people more and more look for individual impressions and experience and therefore favor individual housing over hotels. Own accommodation allows you to be independent from reception working hours and more deeply immerse in the life of a new destination. In addition, vacation rentals are usually more spacious than similar hotel rooms in the same price segment, and e.g. allows accommodation with pets more often and can be equipped with its own kitchen, a private pool or a private terrace among others
In terms of search trends, we see a tendency of increased searches on mobile devices. As practice shows, this increase occurs not at the expense of reducing the search from a desktop computer, but grows in addition to it. We see this also in increasing downloads of our iOS and Android-Apps, that help people find the perfect vacation rental wherever they are, whenever they want.
– Do you think, if there is the process of integration of vacation rental search information systems with classified on local rental markets?
– HomeToGo works with both large international and local providers to cover all the offers on the market. Due to administrative reasons, we do not work with individual entrepreneurs who want to rent their homes, but we can invite them to register on the site of one of our partners, and thus its object will be included in our search.
– What are your plans in the Russian market?
– Our goal is to stay the main search for vacation rentals for all travelers in Russia. To reach this objective, we constantly integrate more local, regional and national providers and look for the most beneficial offers in all popular Russian destinations for our users. The vacation rental market is especially fragmented and segmented in Russia, and we see our goal in unifying it and making the search more convenient and affordable.