Skift Take

Groupon may have its struggles and many similar sites have gone out of business, but travel flash sales have a stubborn persistence — even if they would probably get additional traction in more perilous economic times.

Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. The total raised this week was more than $131 million.

>>Secret Escapes, a flash-sales site for luxury vacation deals, raised a Series D round of investment, led by Singapore-headquartered Temasek, for $111 million.

Idinvest also participated, and a debt facility from Silicon Valley Bank added to the others’ equity investment.

Six weeks ago Skift profiled Secret Escapes in the context of its acquisition of the Czech Republic-based Slevomat Group, which is the leading travel deals business in central Europe.

Secret Escapes had employed 542 workers, with about half at its London headquarters. The acquisition of Slevomat took the group to more than 800 employees.

The company claimed it would sell more than 6 million room nights across its main and acquired brands in 2017.

Secret Escapes has now raised almost $153 million since its 2011 launch. It said it planned to use the latest funding to expand more globally, particularly in the sourcing of inventory.

>>TripActions, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based booking tool for business travelers whose companies don’t have managed-travel programs, raised $12.5 million in funding to close its Series A round. This added to the funding Skift previously reported, bringing the total to $27.1 million. Lightspeed Ventures led the round. Zeev Ventures also participated.

TripActions’ customers can select properties from, Expedia, Priceline, Agoda, and, in addition to the inventory that is available via its partnership with  Sabre.

The startup claimed a customer retention rate of over 99 percent, with companies including Box, OpenGov, and Bowers & Wilkins.

Chief executive Ariel Cohen said that his startup found that business travelers often “do not think of company money as their own.” By encouraging employees to choose cheaper options with the help of incentives, TripActions said it could save companies 27 percent of their travel budget, on average.

Incentivizing travelers has become trendy. Market pioneer, Rocketrip, has raised $17 million to date. TravelBank raised $25 million in September. TravelPerk and Upside have also raised millions.

TripAction’s funding adds buzz to a category of startups aiming to incentivize travelers to book travel more cheaply.

The verdict’s still out on whether TripActions has nailed what business travelers want in a way that creates high margins and is efficiently scalable.

>>Jayride, an airport transfer marketplace, raised $6.2 million ($8 million in Australian dollars). Follow[The]Seed led the funding. Artesian, Rimon Group, and VentureCrowd also participated.

The Sydney-based company, which has 60 full-time workers, earns commissions on the booking of airport rides. Travelers can visit the site to compare offers from “thousands” of transfer companies at more than 500 airports in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., the UK, and Ireland. The company said its next priority is to expand its coverage of European airports.

Founded in 2012, Jayride said it is aiming for an initial public offering. It has raised about $9.5 million to date.

>>Destygo, a Paris-based company building chatbots powered by artificial intelligence for travel companies, received $1.3 million (€1 million) in seed funding from Partech Ventures and AccorHotels a mere nine months after its founding.

Destygo has built chatbots for airlines, airports like Charles de Gaulle, online travel agencies like Misterfly, and travel management companies such as Carlson Wagonlit Travel. It said it planned to open another office in 2018.

Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.

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Tags: funding, secret escapes, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: WestHouse, whose rooftop is pictured here, is a boutique property in New York City that's part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, and is one of the properties available on Secret Escapes. Secret Escapes

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