Skift Travel News Blog

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

Hotels

Ritz-Carlton Ultra-Luxury Cruise Brand Seeks up to $400 Million to Add Ships: Report

6 months ago

The Marriott-controlled ultra-luxury superyacht brand The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection would like to raise as much as $400 million to add two superyachts to its current three, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

The operator is backed by investors such as Oaktree Capital Management. Its first ship, the 298-guest Evrima, set sail in October 2022, with the Ilma debuting this year and a third vessel, Luminara, in the works for 2025.

Fares start around $3,100 per person per night for sailings starting at four-night itineraries in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Central America, and elsewhere. Onboard dining venues include Michelin-starred chefs. (See Bloomberg’s review of the Evrima for more.)

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Targets $400 Million Fundraise

Travel Technology

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

11 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.

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.

Startups

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

2 years 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

2 years 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.

Startups

Travel Startup Boatsetter Raises $38 Million

2 years ago

Boatsetter, which offers more than 50,000 personal watercraft for rental along with activities like wakeboarding, said on Monday it had raised $38 million in Series B funding.

Level Equity participated in the round. The same firm recently helped vacation rental property manager Vacasa go from startup to public company.

The Miami-based Boatsetter believes it can do for boating what Airbnb did for short-term rental apartments.

“By making it simple and worry-free to book an experience through Boatsetter, we’ve been able to welcome hundreds of thousands of new boaters onto the water for the very first time,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, co-founder and CEO of Boatsetter.

The digital private markets team of J.P. Morgan Securities served as the sole placement agent for the deal.

Hotels

Saudi Arabia Taps New $400 Million Fund to Help Build Ennismore Branded Lifestyle Hotels

2 years ago

Saudi Arabia’s tourism development fund said it would help invest in the building of lifestyle hotels in the kingdom through a new hotel investment fund worth $400 million (1.5 billion Saudi riyals) that Al Rajhi Capital will manage.

Ennismore, a lifestyle hospitality joint venture with Accor, will pinpoint locations, provide financing options, and lead the development and operation of these projects, which will create about 2,000 hotel rooms.

Ennismore didn’t specify which of its 14 brands — which includes 25hours, The Hoxton, Delano, Gleneagles, Mama Shelter, Mondrian, Morgans Originals, and 21c Museum Hotel — will appear in the kingdom.

Saudi’s tourism development fund (TDF), created in 2020, has $4 billion to drive tourism growth in the kingdom.

Ennismore was founded by co-CEO Sharan Pasricha, who will be speaking at Skift Global Forum in New York.

Travel Technology

Travel Startup Caravelo Raises About $3 Million in Funding for Travel Subscriptions Tech

2 years ago

Caravelo, a startup specializing in travel subscription services, said on Monday that it had received approximately $3 million (€3 million) in funding from Banco Sabadell via Sabadell Venture Capital and Inveready Venture Finance.

Caravelo, based in Barcelona, said it had seen revenue from its travel subscription solutions double in the first half of the year.

In the past year, it began helping Alaska Airlines on the back-end with that carrier’s recently launched subscription program.

Since 2018 the startup has run a subscription offering on behalf of Volaris, the Mexican low-cost carrier. The Volaris VPass lets more than 30,000 consumers fly within Mexico once a month, paying only taxes when you book in return. Plans vary, but the monthly subscription for round-trip tickets is about $35 (699 Mexican pesos) a month. Volaris’ VPass recently reported a 95 percent increase in users, year-over-year, as well as revenue that is already 105 percent above pre-pandemic levels.

“In the past year, the industry has finally woken up to the power of subscriptions,” said CEO Iñaki Uriz. “We have seen a marked increase in the number of airlines that are working with us to build subscription programs. We are expecting to make new announcements before the end of the year, including the launch of a new type of subscription product by a large carrier in Latin America.”