Travel startups raised more than $390 million in funding this week for concepts such as launching a budget airline, enabling influencers to sell trips, and making it easier to book European campsites, Korean hotels, and Saudi short-term rentals.
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 $393 million in funding.
>>Breeze Airways, a budget airline in the U.S., closed $200 million in additional Series B equity funding.
Entities managed by BlackRock and Knighthead Capital Management led the round. The startup, led by former JetBlue founder David Neeleman, has raised more than $300 million in total.
The low-cost carrier will first serve smaller U.S. cities, such as Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky. The goal is to fill gaps left by the larger network carriers. For more context, read this analysis piece in Airline Weekly.
>>Hopper, an online travel company, said it had raised $175 million Series G round of equity ﬁnancing, led by private equity firm GPI. The investment set up the Montreal-based company for an eventual move of going public, perhaps next year. See Skift’s story on Hopper’s latest financing.
>>Travel Funders Network has collected at least $50 million in funding from private equity firm Court Square.
The U.S. company, run by the co-founders of Hotels.com and Getaroom, is a “unique hotel distribution network” in the U.S. that provides “mostly 3-star hotels a minimum revenue guarantee,” Skift reported this week.
>>TrovaTrip, a technology platform for trip planning and management, has closed a $5 million round.
PSL Ventures led the round, with Elevate Capital and Oregon Venture Fund also participating along with angel investors, such as Barney Harford, former CEO of Orbitz Worldwide and former chief operating officer of Uber, and Eric Breon, founder of Vacasa.
The startup, founded in 2017 in Portland, Oregon, helps people plan trips and book them via certified tour operators. It enables topic experts, influencers, and small businesses to host group trips with their audiences on social media.
“With TrovaTrip, you can follow your passion around the globe – learn from your favorite photographer in Iceland, play disc golf in Cambodia with a professional athlete, or hike with your hero in Patagonia,” said Nick Poggi, co-founder and CEO. “Our platform enables these experts, or ‘hosts,’ to easily plan, sell, and host trips around the globe with their audiences.”
The company said it removes the hassles of planning, selling, and managing trips led by an expert guide provided by the tour operator. ‘Hosts’ can pick an itinerary offered by a tour operator and personalize the marketing of it by adjusting the pricing, selling spots, and managing bookings.
More than 200 so-called hosts work with the startup to offer trips to their audiences on social media, and roughly 350 trips are planned for the remainder of 2021 and 2022. GeekWire has more details.
RET Ventures led the round in the Honolulu-based startup, a graduate of the accelerator Blue Startups.
TurnoverBnb gives 20,000 short-term rental hosts and vacation rental property managers in Canada and the U.S. digital tools to schedule, pay, and find Airbnb vacation rental cleaners and Airbnb cleaning services.
>>Tripbtoz, a hotel booking platform and trip recommendation service, has raised $2.7 million in investment.
The company, based in South Korea and led by CEO Jung Ji-ha, has seen its sales exceed the level before the pandemic began.
It plans to expand into Singapore later this year while it ramps up direct inventory from hotel companies. In a partnership, major Korean bank KB uses content from the startup for its travel app TTBB, the Korea Herald reported.
>>Mabaat, a professional manager of short-term rentals in Saudi Arabia, has raised $2.4 million (9 million Saudi riyals).
Derayah Ventures led the round.
Mabaat rents out residences on behalf of owners, handling the marketing, online sales, payments, and housekeeping.
Saudi Arabia saw its domestic tourism spending in 2020 rise by approximately 10 percent over the previous year, despite the pandemic.
>>Out Of Office, a mobile app encouraging social trip and restaurant recommendations, has closed a $1.6 million pre-seed round.
Brand Foundry led the around along with investors including Chris Brown, the former chief product officer at Orbitz.
“No more searching through your texts, Instagram DMs, or Yelp to curate your next getaway,” said the company’s marketing copy. “Everything you need to know is in Out of Office.”
The startup is co-founded by Coabi Kastan and Janine Seale, who debuted the app in beta four months ago. Seale is the 95th Black woman ever to raise more than $1 million in venture funding, the company said.
“Both of us spent time at a variety of high-growth startups and always found ourselves disappointed by the lack of women serving as decision-makers,” said co-founder Janine Seale. “With Out Of Office, we’re very much just as focused on providing greater access to women like us, and more representation in general, as we are building an app that will change the way you travel, forever.”
The startup isn’t to be confused with one of the same name, Out of Office, which focuses on LGBTQ+ travel.
Fuel Ventures led the round in the UK-based company, which strives to digitize the camping market across the UK and Europe. It lets consumers find camping experiences based on amenities, features, nearby activities, and interests. The company claims to have the lowest commission fees of its rivals.
>>SendSquared, which provides marketing communications technology to resorts, vacation rental management companies, and hotel operators, closed a $1 million seed round this month.
Cobalt Capital Partners, a private equity firm founded by Judy Vijums, led the round.
“SendSquared was created to fulfill the need for a marketing platform that treats guests like people, not numbers,” said Nicolas Wegener, founder and CEO of SendSquared. “Our system leverages data to better understand guest interests and preferences, and creates relevant effective marketing.”
The company helps hospitality brands interact with guests digitally, helping resorts and hotels maintain more control over capacity and pricing while promising to increase guest satisfaction.
|Breeze Airways||Series B||BlackRock, Knighthead Capital Management||$200,000,000|
|Out of Office||Seed||Brand Foundry||$1,600,000|
|SendSquared||Seed||Cobalt Capital Partners||$1,000,000|
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: David Neeleman's new airline is called Breeze Airways. Cean Orrett / Breeze Airways