Skift Take

Funding announced this week went to a wide variety of travel tech startups, with involvement in hotels, cruises, messaging, and sustainability.

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.

Five travel tech startups announced $47.5 million in funding this week.

>>HotelRunner has raised $6.5 million in a Series A round of funding from a group of new and existing firms including 212, Wix Capital, Founders Factory, Ascension Ventures, and DHM, as well as a group of angel investors. 

London-based HotelRunner offers a suite of low-cost software products that can help hospitality clients streamline sales, operations, distribution management, and more. It also offers a platform where travel companies can connect and do business with one another, processing more than 35 million transactions daily between properties, travel agencies, travelers, and payment platforms.

Last June, Wix relaunched its software service for hotels with technology powered by HotelRunner’s products. 

The company said it has thousands of clients in 193 countries.

The funding will go toward growing the business and the team, as well as investing in the technology. The company plans to open offices in the Americas in the coming months and grow its client base in the U.S. and Latin America. The company currently has more than 100 employees in three countries. 

HotelRunner has made two acquisitions previously and plans to further consolidate the fragmented travel technology through additional acquisitions. 

>>Akia, a customer service messaging platform primarily focused on the hospitality industry, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. It was led by Altos Ventures with participation from GSR Ventures, which led the previous seed round. 

San Francisco-based Akia said it has consistently grown three times each year since it was founded in 2019. The startup said market conditions and an ongoing labor shortage have fueled demand for its product. 

Akia said its focus is on providing simple tech that does not require downloads, logins, or tech background knowledge. Through the platform, clients can send text messages to customers that contain links for identity verification, security deposit collection, and contactless hotel check-in. 

“Consumers are tired of poorly made chatbots, waiting on hold for call centers, or downloading apps for single use,” said Evan Chen, CEO of Akia, in a statement. “We are committed to developing innovative products and services that help businesses respond more effectively and quickly to the changing needs of their customers.” 

>>Cruisebound, an online travel agency for the cruise industry, raised $10 million Series A funding. It was led by former Booking Holdings chairman and CEO Jeffery Boyd and Par Capital Ventures. Boyd has joined the startup’s board. (See Skift’s Story.)

The founding team built Rocket Travel, which was acquired by Booking Holdings in 2015. New York-based Cruisebound was founded in 2021.

Additional investors include: Flybridge Capital Partners, Alumni Ventures, Plug & Play Ventures, the Joel Peterson family office, Tripadvisor co-founder Steve Kaufer, and Concur founder Steve Singh, as well as venture investors Dave Blundin, Ryan Moore, and Jeff Fagnan.

>>Onda, a hotel tech company based in South Korea, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. It was led by TS Investment, with support from Industrial Bank of Korea, NAU IB Capital, Square Ventures, K Bridge Ventures, and Breeze Investment. (See Skift’s story.)

Onda specializes in online booking, global distribution, and property management.

>>Chooose, a software platform focused on travel sustainability, raised $15 million from Sound Ventures — started by actor Ashton Kutcher — and GenZero, which participation from Shell Ventures and Vinyl Capital. (See Skift’s story.)

The software made by Oslo-based Chooose, which shares various pieces of emission-related info about specific bookings, can be integrated into other travel software platforms. 

CompanyStage LeadRaise
HotelRunnerSeries AUnspecified$6.5 million
AkiaSeries AAltos Ventures$6 million
CruiseboundSeries AJeffery Boyd and Par Capital Ventures$10 million
OndaSeries BTS Investment$10 million
ChoooseUnspecified Sound Ventures and GenZero$15 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: cruise, funding, hotel technology, messaging, online travel agencies, startups, sustainability, travel tech, travel technology, vcroundup, venture capital

Photo credit: Radisson BLU hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden. Radisson BLU is a client of HotelRunner. Wikimedia Commons

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