Among the latest travel companies to receive funding, RedAwning and WanderJaunt are applying aspects of hotel franchising to home renting. Other companies will likely pile onto these experiments.
>>RedAwning is a vendor that provides branding and technology needed by professional property managers in resort destinations that isn’t being supplied by online marketplaces such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and HomeAway.
The Emeryville, California-based company has raised $40 million in a Series A round led by venture firm Silversmith Capital Partners. RedAwning plans to use the funding to double its staff and expand its business model to Europe and Asia.
In March, Skift profiled RedAwning. As we noted, just as hotels use channel manager software to distribute their rooms to online and corporate travel agencies, RedAwning offers software that lets property managers list their properties — up to 100,000, at last count — on Airbnb, HomeAway, Expedia, Booking.com, FlipKey, and other sites.
The company says it helps make these listings competitive through a combination of “listing optimization, marketing algorithms, and an analytical use of which channel is best for a particular property to be on any given date.”
RedAwning also does branding work for the property managers on the demand side. It has created a soft brand. Properties listed with the RedAwning brand name on sites like Expedia expect a consistent set of contract terms, a damage insurance policy that Red Awning offers (for a fee) as a way to replace the hassle of security deposits, and a 24-hour call service center to help guests in case something goes wrong. (It’s not a franchise, though. RedAwning doesn’t handle housekeeping, for instance.)
>>WanderJaunt, a short-term rental hospitality brand based in Phoenix, has received $2 million in seed funding from Khosla Ventures with participation from SV Angel.
The company takes out long-term leases on properties, outfits them with standardized decor and amenities (such as Leesa mattresses and Brooklinen bedding), and then markets them as short-term rentals via marketplaces like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and VRBO. Here’s a sample listing on Airbnb.
The company plans to use the investment to expand beyond the Phoenix-Scottsdale market and to take on, manage, and rent additional inventory from homeowners.
>>Polarsteps, an Amsterdam-based startup that makes mobile apps, has received about $1 million (900,000 euro) in seed funding from individual investors mostly in the Netherlands. The round adds to an earlier angel round of about $700,000 (600,000 euro).
Polarsteps is an app that uses a smartphone’s built-in location detection technology to trace on a digital map your journey and lets users then add their photos from the journey to create shareable online trip journals, such as this sample one from an Iceland trip. The company claims it has 200,000 users.
>>Side note: Earlier this week we learned about JetBlue’s participation this past spring in a $36 million funding round for Gladly, a vendor of customer relationship software for airlines and other companies. The terms of the deal were not revealed, but JetBlue Technology Ventures — the venture arm of the airline — is believed to have pitched in $2.5 million at the time.
>>In related news, JetBlue Technology Ventures says this month that it has made a strategic investment of an undisclosed amount in Betterez, a startup that provides reservations and ticketing software for bus and motorcoach companies.
Launched in 2011, New York-based Betterez helps ground transport companies run their operations become more tech savvy and pick up on trends pioneered by airlines in optimizing revenue management, running loyalty programs, selling amenities and upgrades for fees, managing irregular operations management, and figuring out how to cope with new consumer marketplaces for distributing their inventory.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.
Photo credit: A look at the hot tub from a one-bathroom cabin in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, that is one of the properties provided by RedAwning via its vacation network. RedAwning