Skift Take

Some of the companies Skift featured in its first travel startup funding roundup went on to thrive, while others ... not so much.

Skift has published hundreds of stories on funding for travel startups since our launch in 2012, featuring Airbnb and tours and activities provider GetYourGuide among other companies in some of those early articles. We took our coverage even further three years later with a weekly roundup of startups that had received or announced funding from investors.

Since it’s been close to eight years after that first startup funding roundup, it’s time to ask, what happened to the six companies Skift featured on Feb. 19, 2015? So we’re taking a look at the trajectory of those startups after that article. We’ve listed the six companies we featured in the order of how much money they raised the week of that funding roundup.

Stayzilla

Stayzilla, a Chennai, India-based startup for booking homestays and budget hotels that was founded in 2007, announced that week it had raised $20 million in a Series B round. It also raised another $14 million after its launch. But despite its success in raising funds, the company ceased operations in February 2017, with CEO and co-founder Yogendra Vasupal announcing it company had suspended bookings on its website and mobile app, revealing the company was unable to expand and break even. Stayzilla reported losses of $14 million against revenue of $2 million for the fiscal year ending in March 2016.

Vasupal’s vows to reboot Stayzilla under a different business model never got off the crowd as he was sent to jail in 2017 after defaulting on payments over $260,000.

PriceMatch

PriceMatch, a Paris-based hotel revenue management startup, raised $9.1 million in a Series A round from Partech Ventures and Northzone. PriceMatch was acquired by the Priceline Group in 2015, which eventually folded PriceMatch into its BookingSuite set of software services for hoteliers. PriceMatch was renamed RateManager, which the Priceline Group made available to hotels worldwide. RateManager was shut down in spring of 2018.

BookingPal

BookingPal CEO and founder Alex Aydin said the vacation rental distributor used the majority of the $5 million it raised in a Series B round to invest in technology. He acknowledged the company, which launched in 2014, used only one property management system at the outset, which it used to connect a single property manager with one online travel agency.

Aydin said BookingPal now uses more than 80 different PMS providers, which he added he has helped the company distribute over 180,00 vacation rentals to 55 online travel agencies. BookingPal also raised $12 million in 2019, funding that Aydin said enabled it to expand beyond its initial markets of California, Florida and Hawaii to 48 states as well as 33 international markets, citing Mexico, France, and Italy among its biggest. He added the company has supplied properties to companies such as Airbnb, Marriott’s Homes and Villas and VRBO.

However, Aydin admitted BookingPal’s hasn’t had enough resources to launch a property owner platform when asked what’s been the company’s biggest setback since its launch.

TripTease

Triptease, a London-based startup that aims to help hotels increase their share of direct bookings, raised $2 million in a seed round. The company also raised $9 million in Series B funding in 2017, some of which it used to double employee numbers at its London and New York offices. Triptease, which works with more than 12,000 hotels, has gone on to open offices in Singapore and Barcelona.

iTraveller

iTraveller, an India-based startup that enabled travelers to select holiday packages or customize one of their own, had raised $1 million in a Series A round from ah! Ventures, LetsVenture and Mantra Ventures. It was acquired by the Lastminute.com Group in 2019 as part as the Switzerland-based company’s plans to make inroads in the Indian market.

However, iTraveller has gone out of business, with its last booking coming in February 2020.

“So while iTraveller as a brand as was, is no longer operating, we did manage to redeploy members of its tech team into our group, and they continue to boost our customer service experience in India,” a spokesperson from the lastminute.com group said.

Flytographer

Flytographer, a travel photography service that connects travelers to photographers, raised $650,000 from nine angel investors. The company, which launched in 2013 in Victoria, British Columbia, used the funds from that 2015 angel round to hire its first employees, including a developer to build its initial booking platform.

Founder and CEO Nicole Smith said Flytographer now operates in 350 cities and has expanded beyond vacation photography to offer shots of surprise wedding proposals and hometowns. Smith acknowledged that Flytographer laid off 80 perfect of staff working in its headquarters early in the pandemic though.

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Tags: booking holdings, funding, funding roundup, india, short-term rentals, startups, vacation rentals

Photo credit: Vacation Rental Distributor BookingPal has supplied properties, such as the one pictured here, to Airbnb. tommypjr / Flickr

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