Home exchange platform The Plum Guide raises £14m to support expansion

Home exchange platform The Plum Guide raises £14m to support expansion

Funding round led by Talis Capital to support roll out to 12 new cities this year

Home exchange platform The Plum Guide has raised £14m from early-stage European investors to support its rollout to 12 new cities this year.

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.

Known as the “Michelin Guide for Homes,” The Plum Guide selects only the top 1% of properties in each of its cities to feature on its site. By the end of 2019 it expects to offer almost 12,000 verified homes in sought-after cities for holiday rentals, with 100 new hires being made to support this growth.

Since launching in London in 2015, The Plum Guide has achieved year-on-year growth of three times its revenue. In 2018, it added homes in five new cities and saw repeat bookings jump by 27% after it opened in Paris, its second location after London.

The key to its success has been customer referrals from its 1.3 million global user base, which drive a quarter of all bookings.

Doron Meyassed, founder and chief executive of The Plum Guide, said: “We are on a mission to build a marketplace of the world’s most beautiful holiday homes… We are taking a systematic and obsessive approach to vetting every single home on the planet and accepting only the top 1%.”

The Plum Guide said it was founded to solve the problem of inconsistent quality, which is encountered by anyone booking a vacation rental online because most open marketplaces rely on peer-to-peer review systems to judge quality, but standards vary hugely.

When selecting which homes to feature, The Plum Guide uses hospitality industry experts to analyse every property in person through applying a Plum Guide test that covers 150 points, from proximity to cafes and transport to speed of Wi-Fi.

It uses a proprietary algorithm to find the highest rated and best located homes. Expert hospitality critics from The Plum Guide then visit each home to interview the host and test the property and only 1 out of every 100 properties in each city joins the collection.

Meyassed continued: “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.

“Previously they have stayed away from the open marketplace booking platforms, which they consider too risky compared with the reassurance that a hotel provides.”

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 of Hearst Ventures, added: “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.”

Partner at LocalGlobe George Henry 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, added: “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.”