Skift Take

This week a handful of companies announced more than $650 million in funding. Business models include intercity bus and train travel, Oyo-style franchising in China, and the mobile ordering of duty-free goods on airplanes.

Series: Startups This Week

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.

This week travel startups announced more than $650 million in funding.

>>FlixMobility, a Germany company that has run FlixBus intercity buses since 2013 and FlixTrain rail service on select European routes since 2018, has raised $561 million in a Series F round.

TCV and Permira led the round. Holtzbrinck Ventures and the European Investment Bank also participated. Past investors have included General Atlantic, Silver Lake, and carmaker Daimler.

The company claims to be profitable in some of its markets. In Europe it has made gains against state-owned and state-favored operators thanks to deregulation since 2016. FlixBus has begun to compete in the U.S. on select long-distance routes with Greyhound, as Skift has reported. The company plans further international expansion.

FlixMobilty has sold more than 100 million tickets via its Uber-like mobile app not only for its services but also for local transit, the company said.

>>TurnKey Vacation Rentals, a vacation rental property management service, has raised $48 million in a funding round that’s separate from its $31 million Series D in 2018.

Altos Ventures led the financing.

The Austin-based TurnKey said it had raised more than $120 million in funding since its founding in 2013.

Chairman John Banczak has become CEO, while T.J. Clark has gone from the CEO role to the president and chief development officer roles. Jen Ford will switch jobs from chief financial officer to chief commercial officer.

TurnKey is one of a few management services helping supply properties to be soft-branded by Marriott International under the hotel company’s Homes & Villas unit.

>>Qingzhu, a company marketing under the Qīng zhù jiǔdiàn brand name that idiomatically translates loosely as “light stay hotel” or “easy living hotel,” raised an undisclosed Series A round of investment in the “tens of millions of dollars.”

Sequoia Capital China, XVC, and Source Code Capital participated.

The Beijing-based company runs branded franchised hotels in the budget category. The brand has similarities to Oyo, which said it had signed up more than 10,000 hotels in China.

A spin-off of Beijing’s Meizhu Bicheng Technology, the asset-light company provides marketing, operational advice, hiring help, supply chain sourcing and tracking, and a property management software system to help hotels enhance their operations.

More than 2,000 franchised properties use it today, said CEO and founder Zhao Nan. Remove the soft-branded franchise name, and travelers will often be able to find the hotels’ original brand names on online travel agencies such as Ctrip and Meituan.

Qīng zhù jiǔdiàn and Oyo also compete with H Hotel, a subsidiary of Huazhu Hotels Group, which, in turn, is often a franchisee operator for global chain Accor. H Hotel CEO Qingning Xia aims to sign up 3,500 budget hotels by year-end.

>>Hipcamp, a digital marketplace for campsites, raised $25 million in funding.

Andreessen Horowitz led the round.

>>Inflyter, a France-based service for ordering airport retail and duty-free items via mobile device, and Grab, a U.S.-based service for ordering food to your gate at airports, have received undisclosed investments.

Collinson, a customer benefits and loyalty service provider to travel brands and other companies, made the investments. Wassim Saade, founder and CEO of Inflyter, said the investment from Collinson was its first round of direct investment.

Skift reported on Collinson’s first tranche of investment in Grab in September 2018.

Collinson is the parent company of Priority Pass, an airport lounge and experience program. It plans to invest in helping Priority Pass members take advantage of these mobile-ordering technologies as part of Priority Pass’s expansion plans.

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, F, 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.

Check out Skift’s Top Travel Startups to Watch in 2019, here.

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Tags: funding, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: A bus of the German intercity service FlixBus drives past the Palais Garnier opera house on May 19, 2015 in Paris. The leader in transport services by bus in Germany, the start-up Flixbus, launched its services in Paris on May 19, 2015. The company now operates in multiple countries worldwide and has announced more funding. 283517 / 283517

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