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Dutch ‘Airbnb of camping’ Campspace raises €3M backed by ex-Booking.com execs

Campspace
Image credits: Campspace

Campspace, the Dutch founded booking platform for sustainable outdoor stays, has raised €3M in a funding round led by Swedish investment firm VNV Global and notable angel investors including former Booking.com board member David Vismans and former executive Andrea Carini.

Accompanying this news is the announcement that Campspace has acquired its German competitor Pop-Up Camps, although the terms of the deal are not yet announced. The company will in the process take on hundreds of new campsites and hosts. Campspace will use the funding to further its offering throughout Germany and the rest of Europe.

Campspace’s co-Founder & CEO Hugo is richly featured in this article, owing to TFN’s access to a recent interview by him. Hugo offers a leadership insight into his company’s founding, state and growth strategy.

How Campspace works

Campspace is a two-sided platform for both hosts and guests. Hosts create an account in a few steps and then rent out their location through Campspace, whether it’s camping in a yurt, treehouse or cabin. The platform offers very extensive calendar integrations, price options, and options for offering rental products & services that aren’t inferior to major players in the market.

Hugo added, “When you sign up as a host, a scout will visit you to photograph your place as best as possible so that your listing looks perfect right away! If a guest has booked and paid with you, you will receive all the money in your account 24 hours after check-in.”

The platform enables guests to find unique overnight stays and experiences in nature. Hugo further elaborated, “The big difference is that at Campspace you can find unique overnight stays in nature, close to home. If you want to travel more sustainably but still want to discover those hidden gems, campspace is the right place for you. Whether you are going out with your tent, caravan or motorhome or are looking for more luxury such as a treehouse.”  A key part of the team is the 400 plus scouts, often Campspace guests, who help the hosts with photography and understanding of the human-centred approach the platform is focused on providing.

A model underpinned by sustainable tourism

As more people rediscover the beauty of the great outdoors, interest in Campspace and sustainable travel has risen rapidly. More than 81% of travellers want to stay in a sustainable accommodation according to a recent survey, with 73% of travellers wanting to experience authenticity, representative of the local culture when they travel.

Campspace, which already offers over 2,000 unique places to stay in over 30 countries exists with the ultimate goal of making sustainable outdoor overnight stays accessible for everyone, no matter where they live. Furthermore, since 80% of tourism’s CO2 emissions arise from transportation, Campspace has a keen desire to make the local outdoor overnight stays a key part of a sustainable lifestyle and culture. 

What sets Campspace apart is its focus on supporting local tourism. The company works to ensure a genuine human connection is of priority. Campspace encourages multiple interactions between the hosts and the guests ahead of the stay, prompting travellers to forge a bond, learning as much as possible about their new surroundings prior to arriving. By allowing guests to book previously inaccessible spots in nature, often located on privately-owned land or on little-known campsites, Campspace cultivates a close-knit community of travellers and hosts both sharing a deep appreciation for nature and human connectivity.

“Currently, the travel industry accounts for about 10% of global CO2 emissions. Due to continued population and prosperity growth, the number of tourists and the negative impact on our environment is only set to increase. By opening up hidden outdoor stays closer to home, we make tourism more sustainable and meet the needs of the next generation of travellers. We live in the most well-connected time in human history but on a person-to-person level, we remain incredibly unconnected. Our platform provides people with unique experiences and memories, but not at the cost of the planet and local communities. We’re delighted that our friends at VNV Global are supporting us on this journey.” explained Campspace’s CEO with regard to sustainability.

The past, present & future of Campspace

The concept of Campspase was inspired by a road trip taken by co-founder Alexander van Nimwegen in 2017. Alexander observed a situation where identikit campsites and motorhomes which were increasingly too full to provide a good experience. Frustrated, he rang the doorbell of two locals and asked to stay on their property. He was warmly received and given many recommendations for the surrounding area. Alexander later returned to the Netherlands and founded Campspace with friends Hugo van Donselaar, Merijn Straathof and Jeroen Wielaards in an attempt to recreate his experience, except on a broader scale.

Following this story, Hugo added, “The outdoor overnight stays, especially in the camping world, are often massive, impersonal and not unique. Camping on private land is the solution to the rapidly growing demand for outdoor tourism.”

Since its founding, Campspace has grown at a rate of 300% per year. Hugo topped this saying, “The team consists of about 25 people with more than 7 nationalities. It is a very ambitious team with a lot of experience in online travel.” While the pandemic and its associated lockdowns were responsible for a surge in the popularity of outdoor stays during early 2020, global demand has yet to slow down. Campspace’s CEO remarked, “We have nearly 10,000 spots in more than 30 countries. The majority of the business takes place in North-West Europe.”

With regards to the funding and expansion plans in Europe, he added, “ With this series A funding we want to take the next step in the large camping markets such as the UK, France and Germany and then go to the Nordics and Southern Europe. It is our vision to be able to offer everyone a campspace within a 30-minute travel distance. In this way, we make it possible for the largest possible group to enjoy nature close to home without damaging nature or local communities.”

“The pandemic has greatly strengthened everyone’s connection to the great outdoors, particularly those areas on their own doorstep. But too often people are limited in their choices when it comes to local overnight stays. That’s where Campspace is making a real difference by unlocking previously inaccessible areas and connecting people. Their network of hosts, guests and scouts provide the opportunity to take many large steps in the area of sustainable travel and create a positive impact in communities right across Europe. We are excited to see where Hugo and the team go next.” Daan Sanders, Tech Investor of VNV Global, was quoted.

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