Young Croatian Startup Turneo’s Product Already Desired in USA – tues

Lauren Simmonds

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May the 16th, 2023 – The very young Croatian startup Turneo hasn’t even been on the market for a whole year yet, but despite that, their product is already being sought by the Americans.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, at an international level, the tourist experience market (at least the one that represents excursions, tours and attractions and is worth as much as 250 billion US dollars) has somehow remained “offline”, and it’s even managed to do so in the time of ubiquitous digitisation.

The reservation of what most people travel to different countries for still takes generally place in a more or less old-fashioned way – at hotel receptions, at travel agencies, at an organiser’s office or stand… But the young Croatian startup Turneo, founded only in March 2022, wants to change all of that.

After half a year of work on the development of the platform, two friends and founders, Matija Marijan and Fran Kauzlaric, offered the market a B2B platform in August that brings together what was previously incompatible – hotels (sellers), organisers (those who offer experiences), and tourists. And doing that, according to these young entrepreneurs who left successful careers to start their own business, was a big, if not their biggest, challenge to date.

“We had to find a way to solve a problem for which no one has yet found a solution at the global level. So, out of nothing, we needed to create a functional platform that would be useful to all of the aforementioned groups. How demanding the task was for us was also showcased by the fact that Airbnb recently paused their “Airbnb Experiences” project, which was supposed to connect tourists with the local offer of tours and attractions. The Tour platform is different because it is oriented towards the business segment, i.e. hotels, apartments, campsites, etc., which, through Tour, can digitally offer their guests a selection of tours, activities, excursions, wellness treatments, etc.” explained Marijan.

The fact that the creators of the Croatian startup Turneo is very much on the right track when it comes to conquering the market has been also shown by the fact that today, only nine months after entering the market, 39 hotels and about 30 organisers are using the platform. Most of them are Croatian clients, but hotels in Prague and even in distant Zanzibar are also now using it.

Investors were also quick to recognise the potential, and back at the beginning of this year, the Croatian startup Turneo received its first investment of 800,000 euros. That investment round was led by Ascension Ventures and Underline Ventures, with participation from Silicon Gardens and numerous angel investors. Their goal is to conquer the European market for now, but the potential is global.

The founders of the Croatian startup Turneo have pointed out that they already have some serious inquiries from across the pond in America, but they are still a small team, numbering a mere eight people, so their focus will be on Europe for some time yet. The largest part of the investment, as Marijan pointed out, will be invested in the development of the platform, as well as in the operational part of the business, i.e. the management of reservations, the overall user experience, requests and so on.

“We’ll be constantly upgrading the platform in accordance with the experiences from the field,” explained Matija. In addition to all of that, they ‘e only now taking a bigger step into the market and the sales world, which they have not dealt with intensively as yet because they were primarily focused on development and their existing clients. The advantages of using their platform, according to Kauzlaric, are multiple.

“The main thing is the satisfaction of the guests. Guests who book a tour or a specific activity together with hotel accommodation are on average 18% more satisfied than guests who only book accommodation, TUI research has shown. This is also the main reason why hotels choose to use our platform. The next benefit is is that, from the commission on the sold tour or excursion, they generate additional income, and the third is that our service relieves the staff at the reception, because the guests now have all the information about additional activities on offer to them in one place, through the Tour application,” he pointed out.

In addition, he added, organisers also profit from their platform, as they no longer have to go around hotels offering guests their activities and tours. “When an organiser connects to our platform, they’re automatically connected to all the hotels within our network,” explained Kauzlaric.

This small and ambitious team is also working on the automation of support for hotel guests in the experience segment through the Marc chatbot, which was created through the implementation of the controversial ChatGPT. They plan to offer this “virtual concierge” product, whose function is to advise tourists on what to do and see when on holiday in a certain place, to major global hotel chains.

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