They say that startup funding is tight right now, but these big fundraises show that some money is still flowing.
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.
After a sleepy holiday season, it was the biggest week in a while for startup funding in travel.
Nine startups involved in the travel industry announced fundraises totaling nearly half a billion dollars.
Each of the three biggest raises exceeded $100 million. They were for platforms seeking to modernize loyalty rewards, tours and activities operations, and corporate travel.
Bilt Rewards: $200 Million
Bilt Rewards, a loyalty platform that customers can use to book travel, has raised $200 million.
General Catalyst was the lead investor, with support from Eldridge, Left Lane Capital, Camber Creek, and Prosus Ventures.
The fundraise values the company at $3.1 billion, more than double the valuation in 2022 when it raised $150 million.
The company has now raised more than $413 million.
New York City-based Bilt allows users to earn rewards points by submitting residential rent payments through its platform. Those points can be used to buy a number of products, including travel.
Bilt partners with residential real estate companies in the multifamily, single-family, and student housing sectors, covering four million units across the U.S. Those companies’ renters have access to the Bilt platform. Users spent nearly $20 billion on rent payments through Bilt in 2023, the company said.
Users can transfer their points to 12 loyalty programs — including IHG Hotels & Resorts, United MileagePlus, and American Airlines AAdvantage — with access to more than 100 airlines and hotel brands.
Or members can use points to book travel through a Bilt portal powered by Expedia.
Bilt members also have access to monthly deals. Past travel-related deals have included a trip to Hawaii for half the usual points, a 90-day trial of Hyatt’s loyalty program, and Lyft ride credits.
The funding will go toward expanding business and improving products, including a program that rewards members for spending on dining, rideshare, and groceries, the company said. That includes bonus points for select restaurants, linking to a Lyft account, and booking travel through the Bilt portal.
Ken Chenault, chairman and managing director of General Catalyst and former chairman and CEO of American Express, is joining Bilt as board chair. Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the Nation Football League, is also joining the board.
Visit Group: $108.3 Million
Visit Group, a platform for tours and activities operators, has raised $108.3 million (€100 million) in growth investment from PSG Equity.
The investor has taken a majority stake in the Visit Group by acquiring shares from Standout Capital and other minority shareholders. The Visit Group founder and management remain as “significant owners.”
Sweden-based Visit Group said it provides software to operators of hotels and resorts, day tours and attractions, ferry operators, amusement parks, and activity vendors. Products include software for packaging, sales, and connecting to third-party sellers, as well as software for customer service operations.
The company said it has more than 2,200 customers in more than 25 countries.
TravelPerk: $104 Million
TravelPerk, a growing business travel agency and software platform, has raised another $104 million.
It’s an extension of the company’s $115 million round from January 2022, and that was an extension of the series D round of $160 million in April 2021.
SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the latest round, with support from Kinnevik and Felix Capital.
TravelPerk has now raised $513 million, and it said the latest round values the company at $1.4 billion.
Vertical Aerospace: $50 Million
Vertical Aerospace said that its founder, Stephen Fitzpatrick, has invested $50 million into the flying taxi startup. The equity gives the startup enough cash to continue operations until the second quarter of 2025, the company said.
London-based Vertical Aerospace is developing what’s known as an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The design, called VX4, is for four passengers and one pilot. The plan is that it will complete trips of up to 100 miles at a speed of up to 150 miles per hour.
The company said it has pre-orders from more than a dozen customers for 1,500 units, worth more $5 billion.
The startup is planning flight demonstrations this year, including at the Farnborough International Airshow and to and from Heathrow Airport.
Fitzpatrick is committing an initial $25 million at $10 per share, followed by another $25 million at a price per share yet to be determined.
Vertical Aerospace went public in December 2021 via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. The company last raised $205 million in October 2021. It said it spent $95 million on operating activities in 2023.
Daytrip: $10 Million
Daytrip, which provides private car transfers, has raised $10 million in a series B funding.
Taiwania Capital led the round, with support from Euroventures, J&T Ventures, and N1.
Prague-based Daytrip said it offers private transfers with English-speaking drivers in more than 110 countries. The rides include optional sightseeing stops.
The funding will go toward building the tech platform, expanding into new countries including the U.S., and establishing new business partnerships, the company said.
The startup said it has more than 7,000 drivers and had more than 350,000 customers in 2023, double its customer base in 2022.
Boomerang: $4.9 Million
Boomerang, a lost-and-found platform for airports and event venues, has raised $4.9 million in seed funding.
LightShed Ventures led the round, with support from GGV, GoldHouse, Harlo Capital, Dream Ventures, Lake Nona Fund, and SeventySix Capital. Other backers have included musicians Drake and Mike Dirnt of Green Day; football players Odell Beckham, Christian Kirk, and Kenny Clark; and Equinox founder Lavinia Errico.
The startup has now raised $7.7 million.
The Miami-based startup offers venues a platform meant to more easily track items that are left by guests. When a guest submits a digital claim for a missing item, the software searches for matches based on the venue’s stock and notifies the guest when it’s found.
Customers include the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, Margaritaville Resort, Encore Resort at the Reunion, The Dalmar, Universal Studios, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Nissan Stadium, and the State Farm Arena.
Transreport: $12.7 Million
Transreport, a transportation app geared toward people with disabilities, has raised $12.7 million (£10 million).
The funding was led by Puma Private Equity with participation from Pembroke VCT
Through the UK-based startup’s app, passengers can request physical assistance during any part of a pre-booked train or rail journey. The staff-facing portion of the software is meant to help companies plan ahead for when passengers need extra hands, as well as track and manage maintenance and repairs.
Transreport has partnered with train and rail providers throughout the UK and says it has facilitated millions of passenger journeys.
The funding will go toward expanding services into the aviation sector and entering the Japanese market in partnership with railway operator Hankyu Corp., the company said.
Movingdoors: $1.3 million
Movingdoors, a startup for booking serviced apartments, has raised a seed round of $1.3 million (€1.2 million).
Uni.fund led the round, with support from Genesis Venture and Venteri Capital.
The Cyprus-based startup said it has a portfolio of 230 apartments, offering bookings for one month or longer.
The funding will go toward expansion, particularly plans to have 300 apartments in Dubai by the end of 2024, the company said. The startup also plans to release an app for customer bookings and communications.
Bookingjini, an app that hotels can use to manage bookings and operations, has raised an undisclosed pre-series A round led by Inflection Point Ventures.
The India-based startup said it has 2,100 customers.
The funding will go toward expanding the startup’s presence throughout India.
|Series D extension
|Puma Private Equity
|Inflection Point Ventures
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 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.
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Photo credit: Travel startups raised nearly half a billion dollars this week. Stefan Schweihofer / Pixabay