Investors have bet big on luxury experiences, with investments in Headout, which offers last-minute activities; Key Concierge, which does something similar for luxury rental properties; My Daydream, which offers customized upscale tours; and Seatfrog, which offers last-minute upgrades.
Travel Startup Funding This Week
Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. Please email Travel Tech Reporter Justin Dawes at [email protected] if you have funding news.
The total funding publicized this week was more than $47 million.
>>Headout, a mobile app that lets consumers book last-minute activities in 15 major cities, has raised $10 million in Series A financing.
Nexus Venture Partners and Version One Ventures led the investment in the New York City-based startup, which claims to be profitable and to have raised $12 million to date.
Varun Khona, Headout Co-founder and CE0, said his business is profitable.
Headout, which was founded at the start of 2015, said that the majority of its reservations for in-destination activities have been for the same day . Until now, it has sold other tour operators’ products, but this year it has been testing offers of experiences under its brand name.
Headout sells its content in many ways, such as via the Google Trips mobile app and through partnerships with demand aggregators like Wall Street Journal and Handy, the in-room hotel services app for hotels from Tink Labs. The 50-employee startup has offices in New York City, London, Dubai, Bangalore, and Berlin.
For context on this sector, see Skift Research’s new report “U.S. Traveler In-Destination Mobile Usage Survey 2018.”
>>Titan Cloud, a maker of online distribution and management toos for hotel companies and tour operators, has closed an undisclosed funding round of at least $10 million in an unspecified series.
Chunxiao Capital and Zhuhai Kechuangtou led the round in the Shenzhen, China-based company.
Titan Cloud, helps hotels and tour operators distribute their inventory to wholesalers and other channels. It has been selling software since 2014.
>>My Daydream, an online booking platform for activities, has raised about $7.7 million.
Junzi Capital led the Series A round.
About 5,000 travel concierges offer their recommended itineraries for experiences, such as walking tours and cooking classes, via the online platform.
The company, founded in 2014, is the online presence of PALA, a Beijing-based custom travel agency founded in 2009 and that has outposts in Tokyo, Japan, London, and Milan, and is similar to Context Tours, which raised $5 million last year, and luxury tour operator Ambercrombie & Kent.
>>Eventbase Technology, a mobile event platform, has received $6.5 million in fresh funding.
Madrona Venture Group and BC Tech Fund participated. Eventbase has raised a total of $14.5 million to date.
The company’s software claims to gather in-depth data across every conference and meeting hosted within its mobile-first platform to determine event return-on-investment, attendee needs, pain points, and app experience. Clients include IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, TD Ameritrade, Century 21, SXSW, CES, and the Sundance Film Festival. Eventbase is located in Vancouver, Canada.
>>Seatfrog, a Sydney-based startup that lets travelers bid for upgraded seats on planes and trains, has raised about $5.9 million ($8 million Australian) in a Series A round.
Octopus Ventures led the round. Howzat Partners also participated. The startup previously raised a $1.2 million seed round.
The company’s biggest client to date is London North Eastern Railway, formerly Virgin Trains. For airlines and rail operators, it runs auctions for seats up to the last-minute and offers either a replacement boarding pass within its mobile app or the appropriate supplier’s app.
The business plans to increase its size from 30 to 45 workers.
>>Lodgify, a Barcelona-based maker of software for vacation rental managers, raised $5 million in a Series A round.
Nauta Capital, Howzat Partners, and Intermedia Vermögensverwaltung pitched in funds. The round brings total funding to $7.3 million to date.
“Lodgify stands out from other software players because of our razor-sharp product focus,” said Dennis Klett, CEO of Lodgify. The company helps small-to-medium-sized rental property owners and managers create professional-looking websites and grow their direct bookings, free from commission.
>>Key Concierge, an Austin, Texas-based travel startup, raised $3 million in early-stage equity funding from 16 unnamed investors this week according to a financial filing. It has raised more than $7 million to date.
The online booking service lists tours, activities, and travel concierges in partnership with luxury rental properties in 20 U.S. destinations.
Have an aviation-themed startup? Take it to the next level by participating in the Air Pitch Startup Competition 2018.
Skift Cheat Sheet:
We define a startup as a company formed to test and build a repeatable and scalable business model. Few companies meet that definition. The rare ones that do often attract venture capital. Their funding rounds come in waves.
Seed capital is money used to start a business, often led by angel investors and friends or family.
Series A financing is typically drawn from venture capitalists. The round aims to help a startup’s founders make sure that their product is something that customers truly want to buy.
Series B financing is mainly about venture capitalist firms helping a company grow faster, or scale up. These fundraising rounds can assist with recruiting skilled workers and developing cost-effective marketing.
Series C financing is ordinarily about helping a company expand, such as through acquisitions. In addition to VCs, hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity firms often participate.
Series D, E and beyond These mainly mature businesses and the funding round may help a company prepare to go public or be acquired. A variety of types of private investors might participate.
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Photo credit: Surfers have fun together in a group outing, one of several experiences that can be booked on short notice from Headout, an agency for experiences, which has raised $10 million in a Series A round. Headout