Hipcamp, a booking site led by Alyssa Ravasio and backed by Andreessen Horowitz, seems intent on international expansion. The startup's skill at creating supply, not just listing campsites, has set it apart and given it momentum so far.
Hipcamp, a San Francisco-based startup that offers campsites for booking, has acquired Cool Camping, an online travel agency in the UK, according to regulatory documents released during the Christmas break.
The private companies have declined to publicize deal terms.
Hipcamp, which a year ago quietly raised $57 million in a Series C funding round, has been seeking international expansion. The startup acquired Australia’s Youcamp in 2020. Youcamp now redirects to Hipcamp, which has ingested the listings.
Hipcamp has acquired all shares of Cool Camping’s parent company Tripadee from past investors. Jonathan Knight, who co-founded Cool Camping as a printed guidebook brand in 2006 and later made it a travel technology company, sold his shares to Hipcamp, filings showed.
Knight is one of the rare stories of a former travel writer who later created and sold a travel e-commerce business. His company claims to have served “millions of happy campers since 2006.”
This summer, Cool Camping added about 5,000 new places to pitch tents. The company benefited from a 2020 UK law that doubled to 56 days the length of time landowners can allow guests to pitch temporary campsites on their properties.
The extra time has made it more worthwhile for farmers and other owners of land to create side hustles in offering their places as campsites during warm weather months.
Hipcamp remains the best-funded camping travel agency in its category. Its investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark, Bond Capital, and Index Ventures.
“There’s no Expedia for campgrounds,” said Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp’s founder and CEO, in a 2021 interview.
Ravasio seemed to believe that whichever booking brand aggregates the most tents, yurts, treehouses, and other outdoor experiences will win in the end. After this acquisition and organic growth in 2021, Hipcamp’s total listings to more than 470,000 campsites in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. It claimed that in December 2021 it had double as many future bookings as it did in December 2020.
Hipcamp helps to “create” supply by encouraging landowners to offer some of their land as campsites. This helps solve a supply problem. Many existing campsites are essentially parking lots surrounded by motorhomes or lack tranquil access to nature.
“People compare us to Airbnb, but that only captures one aspect of what we do,” Ravasio explained at a Skift Live event on outdoor recreation. “It’s more something like Airbnb and Kayak merged, only focused on the outdoors.”
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Photo credit: Apple Camping in a Pembrokeshire meadow. The campsite is bookable via Cool Camping, a company Hipcamp just acquired. Source: Cool Camping.