In 2009, Johannes Reck, a student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, arrived in Beijing one day earlier than his friend and classmate, Tao Tao. Tao, who knew Beijing well, was able to serve as a local guide to Reck once he arrived, and the trip was a success. Without Tao, however, Reck found himself at a loss as to where to go or what to do.

Inspired by this brief travel mishap, Reck and Tao—along with two more classmates of theirs, Tobias Rein and Martin Sieber—founded GetYourGuide, an online marketplace for booking travel experiences. The app allows users to skip the lines for major tourist attractions, like the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, by booking tickets in advance. It also offers more intimate, unique experiences, from cooking classes to small walking tours of more off-the-beaten-track destinations, like Bali or Bangkok.

Today, GetYourGuide is a leading tour booking platform that has sold over 25 million tickets to travelers from over 170 countries. The company is now headquartered in Berlin, which Mattias Björnheden, GetYourGuide’s director of engineering for infrastructure, says is a good base because it’s very international, with many skilled people in engineering and tech. “GetYourGuide is also a very international company,” he points out; the company currently has over 500 employees representing over 60 nationalities. The online marketplace itself is accessible in 22 different languages (including regional dialects like Mexican Spanish), and customers can book tours using 40 different currencies.

As the company continues to grow, Björnheden explains, it is starting to leverage AI, or, specifically, machine learning, to provide customers with a more personalized experience. “We now have a lot of data around what people like, and … what tours are great [in different destinations],” he says. “Being able to surface those recommendations on an individual basis is a key thing that we want to do. If you’re into action sports, we want to give you that type of activity recommendation, versus maybe this little foot tour which is a better recommendation for someone else.”

In the future, Björnheden hopes to be able to forget about GetYourGuide’s infrastructure entirely: “I would like to have a situation where teams can basically just deploy their functionality into the cloud, don’t have to worry what data center, what anything, and then more or less just set up the routing, and the scaling conditions and then forget about it.” That way, he says, the GetYourGuide team will be able to “focus purely on the innovation side of things” and on providing customers with even more amazing travel experiences.

 

from AWS Startups Blog


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