Disrupt Europe 2013 alum, What Now Travel, hasn’t even launched its mobile roaming busting travel guide app yet but it’s already forged an alliance with the tourist board in the city it’s been concentrating on for its first full launch (London).
The startup’s tech, showcased on stage at TechCrunch’s Berlin Disrupt event last year, works offline, providing local maps and attractions info without the need for a cellular or any other data connection as you take in city sights.
What Now Travel said the pair will be launching a jointly branded app later this month — called The London Official City Guide App (and clad in its official red brand colourings) — which will replace the current official city guide app made by the London tourist board’s promotional organisation, London & Partners (itself funded by the Mayor of London, plus a network of commercial partners).
It’s a pretty nice win for a startup that hasn’t even launched a service onto the market yet, being as it will be able to piggyback on the prominence of being VisitLondon official, and benefit from the associated promotion activity of the London tourist board.
There is also a direct financial component to the partnership — beyond indirect marketing benefits and access to tourist board content — but that’s not currently being disclosed.
Last October, What Now said initial content partners for its app were Foursquare, Yelp, Wikipedia and Facebook — so it’s now added the London tourist board to that list.
Discussing the scope of the partnership, What Now Travel founder and CEO Tony Sandler told TechCrunch: “We are working with them to both plug in their content (in addition to our sources like Yelp, Foursquare etc.) and also from a distribution point of view.
“We have partnered to create a jointly branded app (so they have not paid us to make a white label solution). This joint app will replace their existing app in the App Store and will be promoted by us and them as the sole Official London City guide over both offline and online channels in London.”
“This a multi-year, exclusive deal between us and it’s relatively comprehensive as agreements go,” he added.
Sandler also confirmed the startup will still be launching its own brand standalone multi-city app in future but said it’s planning to wait several months at least, while it focuses efforts on the U.K. capital.
“The standalone app only becomes relevant once we move outside London,” he said. “Even though we have created other city guides for demo purposes (as it’s quite easy to scale with our existing data sources/agreements), we really want to focus solely on London for the first few months for learnings/product improvements before looking to roll out elsewhere.”
Sandler added that the tourist board partnering route “may” be a strategy it looks to replicate in future but said it’s not a core part of its expansion plans.
“We are very focused on London for now to show that our ‘plan online, explore offline’ mobile-first solution works,” he said. “We are talking to other tourism bodies but won’t expand for a little bit until we are clear on what is working in London.”