A half-dozen travel startups have recently announced fundraising for concepts including hotel marketing in China, apartment hotels, business travel management, contactless check-in, referrals to wellness services, and tours-and-activities distribution.
Travel Startup Funding This Week
Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. Please email Senior Travel Tech Editor Sean O’Neill at [email protected] if you have funding news.
This week, travel startups announced more than $68 million in funding.
>>Zhiketong Technology, a provider of digital marketing services primarily to hotels, travel companies, and entertainment businesses, has raised $50 million in a Series D round of funding.
Yuanjing Capital and CYTS Hongqi Fund (an investment arm of one of the three largest tour companies in China) led the round. Qiyuan Investment Axiom Asia, Sequoia Capital China Fund, Shunwei Capital, and Yijing Capital took part, too.
Beijing-based Zhiketong said that more than 17,000 hotels use its services, including about 85 percent of luxury hotels in China. Its most popular service is offering direct-sale stores on messaging app WeChat. But it now helps hoteliers and other companies optimize their offline sales efficiency and gain access to traffic platforms such as Douyin and Alipay. It also offers customer relationship management tools.
Liu Hua, the founder and chief CEO of Zhiketong, said in a statement that he expected his platform would process transactions worth more than $15 billion (100 billion yuan) by 2025. The company raised $42.5 million in a Series C funding round last year.
>>Limehome, which manages short-term rentals and offers hotel-like amenities, has raised an additional $11.8 million (€10 million) to top up a Series A funding round that had earlier this year ended at $23 million (€21 million).
The startup, based in Munich and founded two years old, told Reuters that it, between May and September, it operated at 85 percent of capacity at its 45 properties. Nearly a third of its bookings come direct. Limehome said it was expanding from Germany and Austria into offering service three cities in Spain: Barcelona, Granada, and Seville.
>>Taptrip, a business travel management company, has raised $3.5 million (£2.7 million) in investment.
The Manchester-based startup has been backed by Barclays, Techstars, Startup Funding Club, EasyJet, and ATPI. For context on Taptrip, see our earlier article: “The Corporate Travel Startups Breaking Through the Crisis.”
>>Centred, which connects travelers with health and fitness services, has raised a seed round of $1.3 million
Startup studio T9L led the round, with participation from YesVentures. London-based Centred lists fitness studios, spas, telemedicine services, and other wellness offerings via a mobile app.
>>Vikey, which offers contactless check-in for hotels, short-term rentals, and other accommodation, has raised about $945,000 (€800,000) in investment, with the participation of CDP Venture Capital SGR – Fondo Nazionale Innovazione.
The Rome-based startup was founded four years ago and has raised about $1.8 million (€1.6 million).
The Dublin-based startup covers 50,000 experiences worldwide.
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. These fundraising rounds can assist in 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.
Photo credit: The lobby on the ground floor of Shangri-La Hotel Group's new Moon Residence in Kunming China. The hotel group uses the services of Zhiketong Technology, a direct marketing tech company that helps hotels sell rooms on the WeChat platform and elsewhere. Zhiketong