Traveltech 2008, David Cunningham, Our Explorer, 104 x 125OLD fashioned strategies led to the rapid growth and profitable sale of the new-age online tour guide business,, by founder Dave Cunningham, who says he succeeded in a space where others had failed because: “I didn’t give up”.  enables and takes a fee on the booking of qualified tour guides. It has just been sold to Viator, majority owned by the Carlyle Group, in a confidential, cash only deal.

Cunningham, who founded the company in Sydney three years ago, says Viator was attracted by’s extensive network of tour guides – 2000 in more than 500 cities. He says it wasn’t easy signing up the guides because much of the early work had to be done face to face.

Many online companies use the internet to sign up suppliers however Cunningham says the conversion rates using this approach are very low – “99% of people under estimate the difficulty of getting a quality supplier base”.

Once Cunningham had worn out his shoe leather in Australia, thereby establishing the company’s viability, he was able to win the endorsement of the World Federation of Tourist Guides Associations, giving it the necessary clout to achieve critical product mass.

And that was what interested Viator, which approached Dave Cunningham about selling in June.

“It was profitable when sold but not significant in the scheme of things.” The acquisition is a strategic one for Viator, who can leverage their existing expertise, staff and customer base to grow the business.”

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