French Custom Travel Startup Evaneos Raises $6M To Continue Competing With European Tour Operators

Evaneos, a French startup that competes with traditional tour operators by providing a marketplace for tailored travel experiences, has raised $6 million in Series B funding. The round is being led by XAnge Private Equity, with participation from previous investor ISAI.

This brings total funding for the four year old company to around $7 million, having raised a little over $1 million in two previous rounds from various angels and ISAI.

Meanwhile, Paris-headquartered Evaneos says the new capital will be used for European growth, specifically to launch in new countries beyond France, Spain, Italy and Germany where it currently operates. It says the investment will also enable it to triple its workforce in the coming years. In 2012 it grew staff to 20 employees, up from 12 employees the previous year.

Furthermore, additional features are being planned to enable its community of active travelers to exchange and share information, such as opinions or photos, taking the company’s proposition beyond discovery and booking.

Founded by Eric La Bonnardière (CEO) and Yvan Wibaux (CTO), Evaneos provides an online platform to help travellers design, estimate the cost, and book a personalised trip by connecting them with local agents in each destination country, who then offer advice and assistance. These local agents are tourism professionals, also known as Destination Management Companies, who traditionally provide services to major tour operators. In that sense, it’s a classic online play that serves to remove the intermediary.

“Our competitors are the tour-operators that offer discovery and adventure tours. We revolutionize their business model by cutting out the middle-men,” Evaneos CEO Eric La Bonnardière tells TechCrunch. “We are a marketplace that connects travelers with selected local agencies all around the world. Travelers customize trips directly with local experts who give the best of their countries and save money.”

Local agencies therefore work directly for travellers, offering a fully customized service, specialized expertise and assistance on site (pick-up at the airport, assistance number 24/7, etc.) with a price that Evaneos claims is 20% to 30% cheaper due to the absence of an intermediary.

To that end, sales appear to have been growing at a decent clip, at least doubling year-on-year: €2 million in 2010, €7 million in 2011, and €14 million in 2012.

Evaneos makes money by charging a fee for each transaction on its website. It says the fee is much less than the margin typical of a tour operator and is transparent for customers — it’s paid by local agencies without increasing the end-customer price.