Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

MMGY Global Acquired by Private Equity Firm EagleTree

8 months ago

MMGY Global has been acquired by EagleTree Capital, a private equity firm. The travel and tourism agency’s previous owner was Peninsula Capital Partners LLC. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The agency’s management team and CEO Katie Briscoe will remain in place. Executive Chairman and former CEO Clayton Reid will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors.

MMGY Global has over 600 employees in 14 offices worldwide. Their clients include Visit California, Brand USA, Pure Michigan, Singapore Airlines and Costa Rica Tourism.

EagleTree Capital owns multiple marketing and travel-related businesses, including Northstar Travel Group and and PRA.

Travel Technology

HotelRunner Makes Third Acquisition to Expand Its Hotel Tech System

9 months ago

HotelRunner, a hotel tech startup, has acquired the point-of-sale software company PayPad

London-based HotelRunner said Tuesday that it has acquired the Turkey-based company and has rebranded it as HotelRunner POS.

HotelRunner said it offers a property management system and a set of other software products meant to 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.

The PayPad technology allows hospitality companies, primarily food and beverage operations, to complete on-premises sales and payments. The tool can be used to accept multiple methods of payments, analyze sales, and more easily take actions based on data. PayPad had clients based in the UK, Spain, the U.S., and Turkey.

“This development represents a momentous shift for HotelRunner as it delves into on-premise sales operations for the first time, highlighting its sales-first approach in the hospitality and travel technology landscape,” HotelRunner said in a statement. 

This is HotelRunner’s third acquisition, part of a goal to offer a more comprehensive product. The company said previously that it plans to explore more acquisition deals to further consolidate this fragmented sector of travel tech. 

“Our strategic acquisition of PayPad and the birth of HotelRunner POS aren’t merely about enhancing our product offerings; it’s a bold leap toward our vision of building a bigger travel economy,” Arden Agopyan, co-founder and managing partner of HotelRunner, said in a statement. 

HotelRunner POS will be gradually rolled out worldwide, starting with existing clients, the company said. 

HotelRunner raised $6.5 million in a series A early this year. 

Wix last year relaunched its software service for hotels with technology powered by HotelRunner’s products.

Hotels

Eurocamp Parent Company Expands Portfolio With Vacanceselect Acquisition

1 year ago

Eurocamp owner European Camping Group recently completed its acquisition of outdoor accommodation provider Vacanceselect Group for $1.1 billion (€1 billion). European Camping Group owns outdoor-centered accommodation brands.

The acquisition was first announced in July and was approved by the French Competition Authority in February. With the deal, European Camping Group has more than tripled its campsite portfolio and now covers 500 destinations across France, Italy, Spain, Croatia and the Netherlands. European Camping Group is targeting a turnover of $738.4 million ( €700million) this year.

Travel Technology

Plusgrade Buys UpStay in Rollup for Travel Upselling

1 year ago

Plusgrade, a Montreal-based company that helps travel businesses persuade travelers to spend more, has acquired UpStay, a growing provider of upgrade and ancillary revenue solutions for hotels, Plusgrade said Tuesday. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Ancillary revenues refers to revenues generated apart from a company’s primary products and services, such as advertisements or secondary products. These sources of income can enhance or differ from the company’s main offerings.

Plusgrade, the global leader in ancillary revenue solutions, is adding hotel upgrades to its existing portfolio of ancillary revenue and loyalty products. This follows the company’s acquisition of Points, a loyalty ecommerce platform, which closed at $385 million in June 2022. The brand, backed by various private equity firms, hopes to become a global ancillary revenue powerhouse through acquisitions.

“We have been accelerating this mission through a series of innovations, launches and acquisitions, and have come into 2023 as a powerhouse for the global travel industry,” said Ken Harris, Plusgrade CEO. The company plans to use Upstay’s hospitality expertise and technology for upselling additional on-property amenities or services to deliver more value for its 200+ travel and financial services partners across the globe.

Upstay, founded in 2019, has received the 2022 World’s Best Hotel Tech Startup at the World Travel Tech Awards and the 2021 People’s Choice Innovation Award at the Phocuswright Travel Awards for its innovative technology. Its solutions are two-way integrated with over 30 PMS [property management system] vendors, booking engines, and channel managers.

Ancillary sales have propelled the travel industry’s pandemic recovery. Car Trawler projected a 56 percent year-over-year increase in ancillary revenue from 2021 to reach $102.8 billion in 2022. Almost half of all travelers are using ancillary services to improve their travels.

The two companies will operate under Plusgrade going forward.

Travel Technology

AI Firm Buys Legacy Hong Kong Travel Agency in More Signs of Life for China Travel

1 year ago

Abel Zhao, co-founder & CEO of FreeD Group, a technology innovator that specializes in proprietary enterprise application solutions, has acquired 75-year-old Connexus Travel from the parent company of Cathay Pacific, Swire Group. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Founded in 2015, FreeD Group is a travel technology startup offering proprietary SaaS solutions for sales and marketing. The company uses AI [artificial intelligence], big data and machine learning technologies to deliver end-to-end digital solutions connecting platforms, brands and service providers.

“We see tremendous growth potential for Connexus because of its long history of excellent services and the synergies that will be generated between Connexus and FreedD,” said Zhao in the press release. “The positive outcomes we envisage include business opportunities spanning travel services, e-commerce, marketing services and brand loyalty programs, all of which will be underpinned by a comprehensive range of digitalized services and solutions. Ultimately, we anticipate Connexus Travel to follow in the footsteps of FreeD Group and transform into a global brand.”

Headquartered in Hong Kong, FreeD has over 250 professionals from 22 different regions across the globe and operates in more than 10 markets globally. FreeD clients and partners include major names such as Google, BMW, FIFA World Cup, Samsung, China Mobile and LG.

The startup raised a $15 million Series B in June 2022, led by Daiwa ACA APAC Growth Fund and ACA Partners Pte. Ltd. Investors also included Hong Kong property developer Chinachem Group, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks’ Corporate Venture Capital Fund, Radiant Tech Ventures and startup accelerator SOSV’s Select Fund.

The acquisition of Connexus Travel follows the startup’s strategy for targeting expansion in Seoul and Shanghai. Established in 1948, Connexus Travel was to first travel management company (TMC) to be registered in Hong Kong, offering services from hotel and travel packages to ticket bookings and visa applications for both domestic and foreign tourists. The company has offices in Beijing and Shanghai and obtained a local licence in Beijing in 2009. After 70 years of operation, Connexus Travel has become a trusted name for corporate, leisure and MICE travel.

“We will leverage our position as a market leader and the development plans with FreeD to expand our services not only in Hong Kong and China, but also to the markets where FreeD currently operates,” said Eric Lau, general manager of Connexus Travel.

The startup also plans to expand its digital solutions to reach the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

Travel Technology

Spanish Hotel Software Startup Amenitiz Acquires French Business Training Tool

2 years ago

Six months after raising $30 million, a startup offering operations management software to small hotels has made its first acquisition. 

Barcelona-based Amenitiz said this week that it has acquired Ododo, a French company that offers online hotel training. 

The Amenitiz platform contains several features, including data transfer to online resellers, online booking, automation of daily tasks like payments and invoicing, and online marketing. 

The Ododo training service focuses on helping hoteliers learn how to increase bookings and become more profitable. 

Amenitiz clients will now be able to access the Ododo training for free, the company said. Especially during a tight labor market, Amenitiz said that providing the training tool is the next step in further supporting independent hoteliers

Marc-Antoine de la Rüe du Can, the founder of Ododo, will join Amenitiz as head of content. 

Following the acquisition, Amenitiz is launching The Hotel Club, a multilingual training platform through which any hotelier can access free training courses.  

In addition, Amenitiz plans to host in-person events regularly throughout Europe, with the goal of helping hoteliers expand their networks.

Amenitizp completed a Series A round of fundraising in April. The startup is part of a wave of companies offering cloud-based software to help small hotel companies sell online. Some others include Cloudbeds, Hotelrunner, Clock, Yanolja’s Ezee, SiteMinder, and Oracle Hospitality’s Opera Cloud.

Amenitiz said there are 700,000 hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals in Europe, 80 percent of which fall under the company’s target clientele of independent properties with 50 rooms or fewer. 

Travel Technology

UK Hotel Software Operator Guestline Acquires Newbridge to Expand Into Restaurants

2 years ago

A UK-based hotel operations software platform is expanding offerings for restaurants through an acquisition. 

Guestline announced Tuesday that it has acquired UK-based Newbridge Software, a company that offers an electronic point of sale (ePOS) platform for bars and restaurants. Newbridge will operate as a division of the Guestline Group.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Guestline’s existing software platform covers a range of operations and payments for hotels across Europe and Asia, the company said. The company was founded in 1991. 

Founded in 2016, Newbridge has worked with standalone and group operators across the UK. The software includes real-time revenue and profit reporting, and it has features that enable table ordering, rewards programs and promotions.  

The Newbridge software will be fully integrated into the Guestline system, giving existing clients access to the ePOS software. The Newbridge software will also be offered as a standalone service, continuing to serve independent bars and restaurants

Andrew McGregor, CEO of Guestline, said in a statement that enhancing ePOS capabilities has been part of the company’s strategic focus. 

Hotels

Oyo Buys Nordic-Based Vacation Rental Operator Bornholmske Feriehuse

2 years ago

In its endeavor to expand as a preferred full-stack vacation homes provider, Oyo has acquired Denmark-based vacation rental operator — Bornholmske Feriehuse.

Oyo has made the acquisition through its subsidiary DanCenter. Bornholmske Feriehuse has over 700 homes on its platform and according to an Oyo release the company is expected to clock more than 250,000 guest nights in 2022.

The acquisition underlines Oyo’s commitment to invest in Denmark towards accelerating the growth of travel and tourism in the market.

An initiative by Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — Invest in Denmark — helps attract and retain foreign investments in the country by providing a customized one-stop service for foreign companies, looking to set up or expand business in Denmark.

The demand from foreign guests in holiday homes has been particularly high, said Rasmus Lund, director of Bornholmske Feriehuse. Lund hoped that the collaboration with Oyo would give Bornholmske Feriehuse the opportunity to keep up with demand, while allowing homeowners to benefit from the many online portals that DanCenter collaborates with.

“The agreement would help our many holiday home owners achieve a higher rental percentage, while also contributing income and jobs to Bornholm,” said Lund, who will continue as the director of the vacation rental company.

The acquisition in Bornholm will strengthen Oyo’s presence in Europe. In May, Oyo acquired Croatia-headquartered Direct Booker, which has more than 3,200 homes.

Oyo already owns vacation rental brands in Europe such as Belvilla (Belvilla by Oyo), DanCenter, Danland and Traum Ferienwohnungen offering fully-managed private homes across the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Croatia.

Cruises

A&K Travel Group Acquires Crystal Cruises Ships

2 years ago

The A&K Travel Group — the company owned by Geoffrey Kent, CEO of tour operator Abercrombie and Kent, and industrial holding corporation Heritagehas acquired cruise ships Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony in addition to the Crystal Cruises brand.

Both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony were acquired at an auction with the former ship going for $25 million while the latter was sold for $103 million. A&K said the two ships will resume service next year after undergoing extensive refurbishment and will operate under the Crystal Cruises brand. Crystal Cruises had ceased operations in January this year following the collapse of parent company Genting.

Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity ships were both seized in the Bahamas by U.S. marshals the following month after a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Crystal Symphony. A lawsuit alleged Crystal Cruises had more than $4 million of unpaid fuel bills.

A Crystal Symphony ship (Wikimedia Commons)