There are quite a few startups attacking the tour guide app space which, as well as packaging the traditional (paper) guidebook into a handy app form, are more generally trying to bridge the connectivity gap that tourists face when they take their phone abroad and don’t want to be burnt by roaming costs (e.g. Triposo or PocketGuide). Today, another of these travel app startups, Israel-based TourPal, has just closed a $1 million+ Series A, with investment coming from a group of private angels. It had previously raised a small seed of around $100,000, also from private angels.
As well as offering free offline maps, TourPal’s special sauce is a focus on monetising its offering with paid audio guides. TourPal’s apps (iOS and just launched on Android last week) are free to download with audio guides offered as in-app purchases.
The audio tours, which it says are created by professional tour guides, cover hundreds of global tourist destinations — including London, Paris and New York, plus Charlottesville, Haifa and Louanghrabang to name a few. In all, it currently has more than 250 different tours in more than 70 locations worldwide, with eight different languages supported.
“Traveling in unfamiliar places can be difficult and requires either a private guide or doing research. TourPal eliminates the need for both by making traveling easy,” the startup says. “TourPal offers online and offline maps with routes that include tourist attractions and sights, audio guides for each of the sights (done by pro tour guides) an innovative system for recommendations on businesses in the tours area (restaurants, shops etc…) and more.”
TourPal’s local recommendations feature is powered by social crowdsourced data for each location — garnered from the likes of Foursquare, Instagram and Facebook — to show only the most popular places, giving app users a filtered view of what’s around them.
TourPal soft launched its iOS app last November — but did a major update in July, bringing in its current design and feature-set. To date, it says it has had more than 150,000 downloads on iOS, and around 1,000 on Android about a week since that app launched.
Monthly active users on iOS in peak tourist season (August) were 55,000, dropping to 50,000 in July and 30,000 in September — although TourPal noted it did minimal marketing last month as it was awaiting funding and the launch of its Android app. To date it’s sold more than 1,000 paid tours, and had more than 20,000 free downloads of offline maps within its apps.
TourPal intends to use some of its new funding for marketing around the social recommendations feature on iOS, and also more generally to support the launch of its new Android app. It’s also currently offering some of its U.S. audio tours for free (for a limited time) as a promotion.
Some screenshots from the iOS app follow below: