Skift Travel News Blog

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

Travel Technology

Hotel Tech Company Sceptre Hospitality Resources Acquires Booking Engine

3 weeks ago

A U.S. hotel tech company with equity backing has acquired a booking engine based in Ireland. 

Houston-based Sceptre Hospitality Resources said Thursday that it has acquired Avvio

The private equity firm Serent Capital made an undisclosed “significant investment” in Sceptre Hospitality Resources in 2020. The Avvio acquisition was funded through that investment, Sceptre said. 

Sceptre provides hotel tech including symptoms for central reservation, customer relationship management, and revenue management. The company works with more than 1,500 hotels, driving 6.6 million bookings each year.  

Founded in 2002, Avvio launched its artificial intelligence-powered booking engine in 2017. The company also offers digital marketing and website design services. The booking engine, allora.ai, provides tech to more than 500 hotels globally and handles more than 400 million bookings each year. 

The deal will integrate the allora.ai tech into the Sceptre systems, the companies said. 

“Together, they will deliver an incredibly personalized customer purchase journey at every stage in the customer lifecycle,” said Rod Jimenez, Sceptre CEO, in a statement. 

Startups

Guesty Buys YieldPlanet as Startups Serving Short-Term Rentals and Hotels  Consolidate

3 months ago

Guesty has acquired Yield Planet, a hotel-focused revenue and distribution management platform.

The companies didn’t disclose the deal terms.

Guesty’s software helps property managers operate and market their short-term rentals for travelers. In August, the U.S. and Israel-based firm said it had closed a $170 million Series E funding round. YieldPlanet, based in Bellevue, Washington, had raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from Giza Polish Ventures, according to Crunchbase.

Guesty will integrate YieldPlanet’s tools for hospitality distribution, revenue management, and other functions for full-time property managers of short-term rentals, hostels, and hotels.

Guesty announced the news on Wednesday at a conference on short-term rentals it is running in Austin, Texas. The company also announced direct integrations with HopperTrip.comMarriott Homes & Villas, and Google’s Hotel and Vacation Rental Search Products

Startups

Kenya’s HotelOnline, Backed by Yanolja, Buys Hotel Software Brand HotelPlus

3 months ago

HotelOnline, which is based in Kenya and has more than 6,000 hotel clients for its software, has acquired HotelPlus, a provider of hotel software to 2,200 clients in East Africa, the companies said on Monday.

The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal, other than to say that the transaction was mainly done in HotelOnline shares in a transaction that placed a $24 million valuation on HotelOnline.

HotelOnline is backed by Yanolja, the South Korea-based travel startup valued recently at more than $1 billion. HotelPlus was a fully bootstrapped company, meaning that it never took outside venture capital. Its co-founder and CEO Eric Muliro has become HotelOnline’s chief technology officer.

“Through this merger, we are significantly increasing our client base, while capitalizing on the combined strengths of both companies, creating a force to reckon with in the hospitality industry in the East Africa region,” said Håvar Bauck, one of the Norwegian co-founders of HotelOnline.

HotelPlus offers on-premise software, which will be brought into the cloud. The digital services of the combined companies help hotels with a broad range of back-office tasks, such as accepting a wide variety of online payments and setting room rates in reaction to changes in supply and demand.

HotelPlus has clients in more than a dozen countries across the continent, which will help speed the growth of HotelOnline, which Bauck co-founded with Endre Opdal in 2014.

Hotels

Some IHG Hotel Tech Systems Appear to Have Been Hacked

3 months ago

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world’s largest hotel companies, issued a statement on Tuesday that said it was investigating unauthorized access to parts of the company’s technology systems.

The UK-based company, which manages brands such as Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, said its “booking channels and other applications” had been disrupted since yesterday. It uses many external vendors, including Amadeus, to help with accepting reservations from third parties and other processes.

“IHG is working to fully restore all systems as soon as possible,” the company said. “We will be supporting hotel owners and operators as part of our response to the ongoing service disruption. IHG’s hotels are still able to operate and to take reservations directly.”

IHG didn’t say there had been any loss of customer data. Europe has strict laws that hold companies responsible for allowing customer data to be stolen by bad actors.

IHG Computer Hacking Statement

Hotels

SiteMinder Buys Hotel Tech Firm GuestJoy and Reports a Revenue Recovery

4 months ago

SiteMinder, a hotel commerce services company, said on Tuesday it had acquired GuestJoy, a provider of tools to help hotels communicate digitally with travelers. The Sydney-based SiteMinder also reported its latest financial performance, showing that its revenue is recovering though it continues to suffer net losses.

The companies didn’t disclose the transaction details.

“GuestJoy’s capability to automate and personalize guest communications will allow SiteMinder to offer a fully integrated user experience for our hoteliers,” said SiteMinder CEO Sankar Narayan.

GuestJoy offers a mobile app that lets hoteliers use chatbots to streamline some communications with guests before, during, and after stays.

SiteMinder went public last November in Australia. As of Tuesday, it had a market capitalization of about $703 million ($1 billion Australian). Its flagship service is channel management, but the company also offers products and services for distribution, taking direct reservations, and business intelligence.

For the year ended June 30, SiteMinder suffered a net loss of about $76 million ($110 Australian) on revenue of $80 million ($116 million Australian). It now has 34,700 customers, which represents growth over the pre-pandemic period.


Travel Technology

Travel Tech Firm RateGain’s Business Buoyed by Return of Tourists

4 months ago

As more hotels strive to optimize costs, improve return on investment and reduce cost of customer acquisition by generating direct revenue through metasearch platforms, travel technology firm RateGain continues to see considerable demand for its metasearch and digital marketing offerings, Bhanu Chopra, RateGain’s founder and chairman, said.

“We continue to see little or no impact on the overall travel industry as well as our business due to the ongoing increase in inflation, talk about rising interest rates or the ongoing Ukraine conflict,” Chopra said.

Marketing technology has emerged as the biggest vertical for RateGain, with a recurring revenue of 99 percent contributing 41 percent of the company’s overall revenue for the quarter ending June 30, 2022.

Continuing on its path of fiscal prudence, Chopra said RateGain, which made its debut in the stock market in India last year, continues to be one of the very few profitable software-as-a-service companies globally.

“We stay committed to improving profitability through cost optimization and revisiting our commercial agreements to increase revenue per customer,” Chopra said during the earnings call.

The company registered a 59 percent year-on-year revenue growth with revenue from operations reaching $15 million compared to $9 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

“We see robust growth and our annual recurring revenue is now 20 percent higher than pre-Covid levels and is 10 percent higher level compared to the last quarter,” Chopra said.

Given the labor shortages in the travel industry, there has been an acceleration towards digitization and RateGain is well positioned to capture this opportunity, according to Chopra.

“Using artificial intelligence and machine learning we are innovating and launching new products to help our customers acquire guests, retain them and expand on their wallet share,” he said.

Citing Skift Travel Health Index, Chopra said there has been continued improvement in travel demand across the world with more countries now reporting numbers at pre-Covid levels or higher.

Given the return of travel, the company’s transactional volume is up by close to 40 percent. The bundling of data-as-a-service products with marketing technology businesses has resonated very well for the company.

The data-as-a-service business unit grew on the pack of strong volumes of its online travel agency and airline products driven by existing Tier 1 accounts and new accounts, Chopra said. “Also, we entered adjacent sub-verticals within travel such as destination management companies and vacation rental companies and signed up for a set of customers.”

RateGain has also said that it would be investing in launching new products and test piloting them this quarter.

Hotels

Hotel Tech Trade Show Producer Rejects Takeover Bid by Largest U.S. Hotel Lobby

7 months ago

The trade group Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP)— which produces the world’s largest hotel technology trade fairs — rejected on Monday an unsolicited merger offer by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), the largest U.S. hotel lobby.

The hotel technology career group is best known for putting on HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference) trade fairs in several markets.

The trade group justified turning down the merger offer by saying the groups were mismatched. HFTP is a “global association with members from the entire hospitality spectrum” and wasn’t a comparable match with “a North American association with an advocacy focus whose constituents are primarily hotels.”

Sounds true. But HFTP also probably didn’t want to share revenue from its trade shows. Or AHLA didn’t offer enough money, because HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe is said to live up to his Wolfe surname in negotiations.

The hotel lobby ought to go after HSMAI Americas, an organization of sales, marketing, and revenue management professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry, instead. But it won’t be cheap, either.

Read the statement

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