Contxto – Personally, I love covering startups innovating tourism, made evident by my past coverage of Selina, Jubel, Airkeep, among others. Based on my own nomadic tendencies, the latest Latin American company to join my repertoire of travel stories is Instaviagem from Brazil.
Meaning “instant trip” in Portuguese, the startup recently raised R$2 million (approximately US$520 thousand) from VC fund Domo Invest. Moving forward, the startup now plans to accelerate its business platform.
Everything revolves around customer preferences with the digital travel agency, Instaviagem. Beginning in 2017, the startup manages a platform for users to go on customizable trips. This was something that didn’t exist in Brazil back then.
“Two years ago, there was no solution in Brazil that would, in fact, bring unique experiences to travelers,” said CEO Caio Martins, who founded the company with his brother David Andrade and their friend Mark Arata.
“The vast majority of businesses in this industry continue to be plastered, following the traditional travel agency model marketing standardized packages.”
New funds from Domo Invest will facilitate the continual growing process for the startup. Part of this entails scaling operations inside and outside of Brazil. Potentially, the company will also start distributing the solution to other tourism operators.
“From the beginning of our conversations, we felt that Domo Invest understood our challenges and would be the best to help us gain more traction,” added Martins.
To provide its solution, Instaviagem reportedly “imported” an American model of “surprise trips.” For all the spontaneous globetrotters out there, this system means that customers don’t find out where they are going until a week prior. However, the company creates itineraries according to clients’ tastes and desires.
At first, the founders created a forum to exchange travel experiences known as Dubbi in 2015. Over time, users started expressing interest in actually embarking on mystery trips. Founders eventually changed their business model based on the feedback.
While Instaviagem originally wanted to allure backpackers, the founders eventually realized that efforts would be better elsewhere. Perhaps they were too unpredictable to tame.
Rather, they discovered that married couples seeking romantic escapades were more likely to use their services. Other clients tend to be those who just don’t enjoy planning things ahead of time.
Equipped with its patented algorithm, the platform handles around 1,000 customers per month. Rather than having to plan lodging, dining or sightseeing, Instaviagem prepares all the logistics for you.
Tourism continues to be a major industry for new and old businesses alike. Recent data from the annual World Travel & Tourism Council survey said that the global travel sector handled around US$8.8 trillion last year. In 2018, the industry also created 319 million jobs.
Perhaps spontaneous or mystery travel will become a niche of its own someday down the road.