Skift Take

There is a reference to artificial intelligence by nearly all the startups listed. It is being used to strengthen the services for even the seemingly most basic types of consumer apps.

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.

Tech startups involved in the travel industry raised nearly $118 million this week.

>>Patriot Family Homes, a short-term rental platform focused on single-family homes in underserved market areas, has raised $60 million in a Series B round of funding led by TRT Holdings and Miramar Holdings.

Joe Riley founded Patriot Family Homes in 2018 shortly after returning from a U.S. military deployment to Afghanistan. During the deployment, Riley and his wife rented their house on Airbnb, during which they recognized the need for short-term rentals around U.S. military bases. The focus has expanded since then.

“We started serving military markets exclusively, which remains central to our DNA and growth, and we are proud to employ a large number of veterans and military spouses,” Riley stated in an email. “Over the past few years, we discovered that our brand also resonates with more underserved guest segments outside of military markets, where lodging supply is very limited and overnight demand is underserved. This is especially true for groups and family gatherings where larger homes and higher bedroom counts serve a distinct need.” 

The company said it has 400 properties in 40 markets in 13 U.S. states. The majority of properties are based in the southeastern region of the country, in states including Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, and others, according to the website. 

The funds will be used to acquire, renovate, and operate single-family home rentals as the startup expands its market reach, as well as hire employees and strengthen the tech platform. 

>>Hotelmize, a profit optimization platform for hotel resellers and other hotel booking businesses, has secured $12 million in Series B funding led by Flashpoint Venture Capital.

The Hotelmize proprietary technology, powered by artificial intelligence, tracks the prices of refundable hotel rooms as they fluctuate. Once a customer books a stay, Hotelmize can rebook the reservation on behalf of their clients if the rate subsequently drops, splitting the profit with the reseller. 

Israel-based Hotelmize said it experienced 800 percent growth last year and retained notable brands in the industry. The startup said the increased demand has come as travel companies seek to increase profits during a slow post-pandemic recovery. 

Hotelmize has more than 100 clients in 33 countries and plans to launch a new set of products this spring.

>>Inbenta, which provides a chatbot and other services powered by artificial intelligence, has raised $40 million in a round led by Tritium Partners.

While Inbenta is not focused solely on travel, that industry is one of its main sales areas. Travel industry customers include airlines GOL Airlines, Iberia, Vueling, Volotea, as well as online travel agency Skyscanner. 

The California-based company has 250 customers in total, it said. The investment will fund product innovation and expansion into new markets.

Inbenta said its configurable products operate in 35 languages and require virtually no data training, and they have a correct answer rate of 90 percent. 

“For over a decade, we’ve been optimizing our technology so that customers can be understood and responded to in a way that is helpful, genuine and, most importantly, achieves a quick and impactful resolution,” said Jordi Torras, founder and chief innovation officer of Inbenta, in a statement. 

Along with the funding announcement, the company said that Melissa Solis is now its CEO, and Torras is continuing as the chief innovation officer. 

>>NLX, which offers a next-generation chatbot platform to enable customer self-service, raised $4.6 million in a second round of seed funding. 

The round was led by IAG Capital Partners with participation from JetBlue Ventures, Flying Fish Partners, and others. 

The NLX service is for a wide variety of industries, including travel. The startup raised $5 million one year ago. JetBlue also participated in that previous round and published a blog post at that time explaining why. Travel clients include Copa Airlines. 

The artificial intelligence-powered platform allows clients to create automated, personalized conversations with customers in one place, the startup said. The software includes reporting and analytics capabilities that allow teams to adjust response according to real-time customer feedback.

>>Velada has raised $1.1 million (€1 million) for a restaurant guide and booking app in Spain that’s focused on travelers. 

Velada, which means “a great night out” in Spanish, is based in Madrid. 

The information, curated by food critics and local experts, is available in Spanish and English and covers more than 1,000 locations in 16 cities and islands. The app also uses a proprietary algorithm to make personalized recommendations for users.

The app has had more than 100,000 downloads since January 2021. The funding will allow the startup to add more destinations in 2023. The app will also add a premium subscription for a concierge service and invitations to exclusive events.

CompanyStage LeadRaise
Patriot Family HomesSeries BTRT Holdings and Miramar Holdings$60 million
HotelmizeSeries BFlashpoint Venture Capital$12 million
InbentaUnspecifiedTritium Partners$40 million
NLXSeed IIIAG Capital Partners$4.6 million
VeladaUnspecifiedUnspecified$1.1 million

Skift Cheat Sheet

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 DE 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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Tags: artificial intelligence, bedbanks, chatbots, customer service, funding, short-term rentals, software, startups, travel technology, vcroundup

Photo credit: This home in Columbus, Ohio, is part of the short-term rental portfolio for Patriot Family Homes. Patriot Family Homes / Patriot Family Homes

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