Skift Travel News Blog

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

Travel Technology

Travelport Owners Inject $200 Million to Sustain Its Travel Tech Growth

8 months ago

Travel technology company Travelport revealed on Friday it had received a $200 million investment from its owners, Siris Capital Group and Elliott Management. Based in Langley, UK, the privately held company didn’t disclose its financial performance other than to say it had achieved “a strong first-quarter performance.”

The investment may have partly helped Travelport to acquire Deem, the corporate travel player, as Skift reported earlier this month. Those companies didn’t disclose the price or terms of that transaction.

“The main advantage of private equity ownership is agility, which is crucial in a rapidly changing environment,” said CEO Greg Webb in a statement.

Skift recently published an interview with Webb about the company’s strategy. Travelport’s software supports travel bookings for more than 100,000 travel agents.

Venture Capital

$160 Million European Travel Tech Fund Makes First Investment

9 months ago

Roch Ventures, a €150 million ($160.2 million) fund for travel tech startups in Europe and Israel, has made its first investment. 

The Luxembourg-based fund made an investment in WeSki, a startup booking engine focused on the ski and snowboard industry. Roch Ventures is leading the round with participation from Waze founder Uri Levine, TravelPerk CEO Avi Meir, and the founders of FlixBus. The size of the investment was not disclosed. 

This is the first of what will likely be another five investments from the fund this year, said Bobby Demri, managing partner of Roch Ventures. The firm plans to invest the fund into 20 companies, focusing on seed and Series A rounds. It’s focused on the European and Israeli markets, which Demri said is filling a gap for the travel tech industry there. 

“In Europe, people are very afraid about travel investment. You will find some investing in travel, but you will never find a firm specializing in travel,” Demri said.”

Roch was founded last year by Demri and Ludger Kuebel-Sorger of Boston Consulting Group, along with executives from Six Senses, Ennismore Brand, and Air France.

The firm is focusing on what Demri believes is the next revolution in the travel and tourism sector. 

He sees opportunities around digital nomad services, sustainability, the blending of corporate and leisure travel, and tech that could remove intermediaries like global distribution systems. 

As for WeSki, he believes the opportunity lies in what he sees as a rise of niche travel services. 

“I think that the travel sector is becoming a more specialized industry,” Demri said.

Tel Aviv-based WeSki partners with 60 ski resorts in seven countries in Europe. Next, it plans to enter the U.S. market, including mom-and-pop facilities that may not have had much online presence previously. 

The platform allows users to book all facets of a ski trip, including flights, transportation, accommodations, ski lift passes, ski gear rental, and more, all according to budget, party size, and level of experience. 

WeSki said it had a 300 percent increase in revenue between 2021 and 2022 and revenue growth of 1,000 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Online Travel

ResortPass Adds $26 Million in Celebrity-Backed Funding

1 year ago

Luxury hotels and resorts, with all their amenities, are usually the playgrounds of the rich and famous and are reserved exclusively for overnight guests who pay top dollar to stay there. 

However, a group of celebrity funders are boosting ResortPass by $26 million to build out its day-pass marketplace for establishments that want to allow guest to come and relax with them for the day.

The demand for local experiences, not too far from home, has surged as post-pandemic travel recovers. The six-year-old startup, now bolstered in its current round of funding by the likes of Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow (both avid investors in wellness, health and beauty), said the intention is to build its marketplace so guest more easily access amenities such as pools, spas and fitness centers without the hefty overnight price tag.

ResortPass offers some 900 brands such as the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Westin and gives hotels free listings on its marketplace while charging a subscription for its SaaS software to manage access for day trippers.  

While some would argue the model removes the exclusivity for overnight guests, the startup’s business model is to monetize underutilized inventory and work with these hotels to determine price points on par with the caliber of the services and amenities.    

ResortPass has also received backing by Airbnb’s syndicate, AirAngels, with the intention to grow new market access for travelers wanting to tap into a destination’s day experiences.

The Series B funding round was co-led by Declaration Partners and 14W, bringing ResortPass’s total funding to $37 million. Early backer CRV also participated in the financing, along with new investors such as William Morris Endeavor, Adam Grant and Brian Kelly of The Points Guy.

Predominantly focused on U.S. destinations, ResortPass’ recent expansion covers the Caribbean, Mexico and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. With its newly acquired funding, ResortPass expects to expand its partnerships into Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

Online Travel

Hopper Attracts a $96 Million Investment From Capital One in Partnership Expansion

1 year ago

Capital One, which led a $170 million investment round in travel app Hopper in 2021, has added $96 million to the kitty, and the companies announced a long-term partnership between Hopper and Capital One Travel.

Hopper CEO and co-founder Frederic Lalonde
Hopper CEO and co-founder Frederic Lalonde in discussion with Executive Editor Dennis Schaal. Source: Skift

“Following the success of Capital One Travel, Hopper and Capital One are announcing an extension to their partnership as a way to continue creating best-in-class, intuitive solutions that make all parts of the travel journey seamless for customers,” Hopper’s announcement stated.

Hopper powers Capital One Travel, and Hopper also offers an array of fintech products, such as price freezes on flights and hotels, for an array of other partners.

Hopper claims to the the third largest online travel agency in North America, and to command 11.2 percent of third party flight bookings in the U.S., citing Marketing Information Data Tapes figures.

“The funds will be used to accelerate the company’s growth across several fronts including fueling its new social commerce initiatives,” Hopper stated.

Hopper has raised around $730 million in total funding.

A Hopper spokesperson declined to elaborate on Capital One’s equity stake in Hopper.

Online Travel

Australian Online Travel Agency Travello Raises $6 Million

1 year ago

Travello, a Brisbane, Australia-based online travel agency, has raised $6.3 million ($10 million Australian) in a Series B round led by Queensland Investment Corp.

CEO and co-founder Ryan Hanly said Travello, which is largely focused on selling tours and activities to travelers between the ages of 18 and 36, will use the funding to expand further in Australia and New Zealand as well as make inroads in the United States and Asia.

“Our view is the youth market is hugely underserviced at present with brands like STA closing down during Covid,” Hanly said. “They also spend significantly more than most people think and typically they spend it on experiences.”

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Mark Cantoni said between only 5 and 10 percent of the company’s sales prior to the pandemic had come from Australian travelers. But he added Travello is seven times bigger than it was pre-Covid largely because of the growth it’s seen in its domestic market.

Travello, which was founded in 2016, has raised $13.9 million ($22 million Australian) to date.

Uluru sunset
Travello aims to use its injection of funding to expand Source: Weyf/Wikimedia Commons

Online Travel

Indonesia’s Traveloka Lands $300 Million Funding

1 year ago

Indonesia’s leading online travel agency Traveloka will be receiving a fresh round of funding of $300 million from Indonesia Investment Authority — the newly-formed sovereign wealth fund of Indonesia, investment management agency — BlackRock, Allianz Global Investors, Orion Capital Asia and other global financial institutions.

The financing round is said to have attracted significant interest from a number of long-term capital providers, resulting in an oversubscribed transaction, according to an Indonesia Investment Authority release on Thursday.

A Skift article in June had mentioned that the online travel unicorn had been looking to raise over $200 million, having already raised a total of $1.2 billion in funding across six rounds.

The financing would allow Traveloka an opportunity to further strengthen its balance sheet and enable the online travel company to continue to focus on its core business while also building for the future, Ferry Unardi, CEO and co-founder of Traveloka, said.

The pandemic has heightened the expectation for digital products, Shirley Lesmana, chief marketing officer of Traveloka, had said while speaking at the Skift Global Forum in New York last week.

With online travel agencies in Indonesia seeing their share of gross tourism booking increase from 24 percent pre-pandemic to 33 percent in 2021, the expectation is to reach 36 percent by 2024, said Ridha Wirakusumah, CEO of Indonesia Investment Authority.

With the pandemic having accelerated digital transformation, the financing would support Traveloka’s digital ecosystem growth in the travel sector while allowing the company to grow further, the release from Indonesia’s sovereign wealth fund stated.

“The financing aligns with Indonesia Investment Authority’s mission to create prosperity for Indonesia in the long term, by laying down the foundation for a sustainable digital ecosystem, including digital infrastructure, digital services and digital platforms — which will go a long way to drive economic recovery and growth,” Wirakusumah said.

Representatives from the financial institutions commended Traveloka’s resilience in navigating the Covid crisis and called the online travel company Indonesia’s national and regional champion and a key catalyst toward digitalization of travel and accommodation in the country and the region.

Startups

Startup Volantio Closes $6 Million Funding Round With Help From Alaska Airlines and JetBlue

1 year ago

Volantio, an optimization startup that has many airline customers, said on Thursday it had closed a $6 million Series A fundraising.

DiamondStream Partners, an aviation and aerospace venture capital firm, led the round in the Atlanta-based company. Alaska Airlines, one of Volantio’s customers, also took an equity stake. JetBlue Technology Ventures, IAG, Amadeus Ventures, and Ingleside Investors also made follow-on investments.

“Volantio has already delivered well over $20 million in annual benefit to Alaska Airlines, and that number continues to grow,” said Shane Tackett, Alaska Airlines’ chief financial officer.

Volantio’s software uses deep learning to tackle optimization challenges. Airlines have been its flagship customers so far. Its software helps airlines pinpoint flexible passengers on full flights using data. It then prompts these flyers to switch, in return for vouchers and other incentives, to other flights, thus making seats available for more profitable last-minute bookings.

Volantio said it “recently expanded into the live events industry through a first-of-its-kind partnership with Disney Theatrical Group.”

The startup won Skift’s Air Pitch competition at Skift Global Forum in 2018.

Online Travel

Travel Planning and Booking Platform TrovaTrip Raises $15 Million

1 year ago

TrovaTrip, a Portland, Oregon-based startup that connects social media content creators and travelers, has raised $15 million in a Series A round led by the Madrona Venture Group.

TrovaTrip, which offers more than 150 experiences in 48 countries, enables travelers to participate in activities such as hiking in Patagonia and doing yoga in Bali. Creators establish the price for experiences they’re leading while TrovaTrip sets up a page for hosts to promote their trips, which are run by certified tour operators. TrovaTrip plans to use the investment for its expansion plans.

The company, which was founded in 2017, has raised $20 million in funding to date. The Series A funding round follows TrovaTrip’s $5 million seed funding that was announced in August 2021.

Startups

Guesty Raises $170 Million for Short-Term Rental Management Software

1 year ago

Guesty, which makes software for managing short-term rentals and other travel lodging, said on Tuesday it had raised $170 million in a Series E round of funding.

Apax Digital Funds, MSD Partners, and Sixth Street Growth led the round, while existing investors Viola Growth and Flashpoint also took part. Guesty said it was on track to generate $100 million in revenues within the next year.

“Despite an exceptionally challenging fundraising climate, the funding Guesty has raised is a vote of confidence in the travel and short-term rental ecosystem,” said co-founder and CEO Amiad Soto.

Customers use Guesty to take bookings and payments directly and via Airbnb, Vrbo, Expedia, Booking.com, and other online travel agencies. The platform helps streamline the process of communicating with guests and handling housekeeping and other operational tasks.

The company will use some of the capital to make acquisitions and expand into unspecified new business verticals. Its executives believe that, as short-term rental managers become more professionalized and grow in size, they will outsource more tasks to tech vendors. They argue that this dynamic will lead to industry consolidation. For context, Skift Research subscribers can read Skift Research’s hospitality reports.

Guesty was part of the winter 2014 class at Y Combinator. One of the things the accelerator’s mentors taught Guesty’s founders was to focus on creating a small fan base of dedicated customers and super-serving them before scaling. Soto credits focus on polishing the product for the edge the company has had over rivals.

Startups

Travel Tech Firm Skipper Raises $5 Million to Help Indie Hotels

1 year ago

Skipper, a hospitality tech startup that offers direct booking tools for hotels, came out of stealth on Friday with a $5.8 million seed round. 

Google’s Gradient Ventures led the round. Other investors taking part include Pear.VC, Wayfinder, Uncommon Capital, ERA, angels Ryan Simonetti (Convene), Neil Parikh (Casper), and Aaron Frank (Final).

Here’s how the startup describes itself: “Skipper is building a new network for hotels that includes a streamlined booking engine to make booking easy.”

Upselling and cross-selling can boost the revenue of hotels along the way.

CEO Jason Shames previously led digital at the trendy U.S. brand Ace Hotels, and saw how challenging it was for independent hotels to create a connected guest experience similar to what many of the big chains offer.

“Our company aims to give independent hotel owners the tools they need to compete with large chains and online travel agencies and thrive on their own,” Shames said in a statement.

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