Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

Oyo Still Keen to Pursue IPO Setting Mid-February Deadline for Refiling

2 weeks ago

Keen to pursue its long-anticipated initial public offering (IPO), hospitality tech company Oyo has said it would be refiling its draft red herring prospectus with the Indian stock market regulator Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) by mid-February.

While the company refused to offer any estimation of the time it expects SEBI to take for the approval, a source close to the company said Oyo hopes to get the approval by April 2023.

“After the approval comes in, Oyo will gauge market conditions and the path to profitability and then decide on launching the IPO,” the source said speaking to Skift.

Asked to hint at a timeline for the launch of the Oyo IPO, the source said it would well be within this year.

The market regulator had on December 30 asked Oyo to refile the draft prospectus, updating all the relevant sections such as risk factors, key performing indicators, outstanding litigations and basis for offer.

The company had earlier indicated that the process of refiling the document could take up to 2-3 months.

Oyo’s last submission to SEBI was the updated financial results of the first half of financial year 2022-23.

Updating its draft red herring prospectus with results for the first half of the 2023 financial year in November, Oyo had reported that its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization for the second quarter grew eight times from $860,000 in the first quarter to $7 million primarily driven by a 23 percent quarter-on-quarter rise in gross booking value per hotel.

The letter from the market regulator to Oyo read, “The disclosures contained in the present draft red herring prospectus do not take into account the material changes/disclosures arising from updated financial statements as filed through
addendums leading to revised period for disclosures which in turn leads to necessities to make material updates in risk factors, basis of offer price, outstanding litigations and update other relevant sections of the prospectus.”

Sharing the progress on the refiling exercise, an Oyo spokesperson said, “We are working on updating all key sections simultaneously. Responsibilities have been divided among different teams,
with senior company leaders driving the collaboration with the book running lead managers, essentially the initial public offering bankers, the lawyers and the auditors. We are keen on refiling the draft prospectus by mid February if not earlier.”

The Indian market regulator’s move seems to be in line with its expectation of higher levels of transparency in the initial public offering process.

Lately, it has asked companies to share additional key performing indicators and the basis for pricing of IPOs. In its meeting with bankers in December 2022, SEBI had also shared steps it is taking to reduce the IPO processing time which has increased to 113 days.

Business Travel

Travelport Is Selling Off Its Corporate Hotel Booking Platform Hotelzon

2 months ago

Travelport is planning to sell its Hotelzon division to corporate travel agency startup TripStax, which was officially launched earlier this year — by two former execs at Travelport.

Hotelzon claims to offer 1.5 million properties from multiple content sources that include Booking.com and Expedia, and says it has 370,000 users, including travel agencies, corporations and event management companies.

It was established in 1972, but has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Travelport since 2014.

TripStax signed the agreement to acquire Hotelzon as of Dec. 1 2022. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but TripStax said the agreement establishes a “long-term strategic relationship between TripStax and Travelport whereby Hotelzon will continue to generate hotel bookings on Travelport+.”

Travelport has been streamlining its technology since it announced Travelport+ in April last year.

Skift first revealed the development of TripStax as a spin-off from corporate travel agency ATPI in July 2021. TripStax’s investors include Intermediate Capital Group, which is one of ATPI Group’s owners. ATPI also made a significant investment, with ATPI CEO Ian Sinderson joining TripStax as a director.

Jack Ramsey, CEO of TripStax, was previously global sales director at Hotelzon.

The Unbundling Trend

TripStax said the acquisition will boost its technology offering of “connected proprietary business travel modules with a fully integrated hotel booking tool for agencies and corporates direct.”

The travel agency startup wants to stand out from the crowd by offering modules, such as analytics, content and traveler tracking, rather than a full service. Corporate travel agencies are under growing pressure to separate their bundled services as company travel managers look to cut costs and add flexibility.

Hotelzon will be integrated as an additional module.

It is the second acquisition made by TripStax, following its purchase of TapTrip earlier in the year. TapTrip also received investment from ATPI.

“Since its conception, TripStax has been on the look-out for acquisitions which add relevant and complementary tech to its already powerful stack of business travel management modules,” said Ramsay. “We are also excited to welcome the hugely experienced Hotelzon team to the TripStax business and plan to further invest in the team to strengthen existing customer and supplier relationships and realise the full potential of this joint opportunity.”

Hotels

Hotels Record Tepid Increase in Job Growth

2 months ago

Hotels added 26,000 new jobs in the United States in November, a small increase from the previous month despite the overall strong job growth numbers for the U.S. economy, especially the leisure and hospitality industry.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed, in its monthly jobs report released on Friday, that leisure and hospitality — which includes hotels — added 88,000 jobs in November, representing roughly a third of total jobs created in the U.S. Leisure and hospitality added only 35,000 jobs in October — 20,000 came from hotels. Overall employment in leisure and hospitality is 5.8 percent, or 980,000 jobs, below February 2020 levels.

The U.S. added 263,000 new jobs in November, significantly better than the 200,00 new jobs economists projected. The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7 percent.

Hotel staff worker
Hotels are still struggling to solve the problems of staff shortages (Flickr/Hashoo Foundation USA)

Online Travel

ResortPass Adds $26 Million in Celebrity-Backed Funding

2 months 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. 

Hotels

Qatar’s World Cup to Benefit Hyatt and Accor Most: Analyst

3 months ago

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 starts in five days, and Qatar is struggling to have enough lodging to house an expected 1.2 million football fans.

Qatar has only about 31,000 hotel rooms, according to benchmarking service STR, though Qatar Tourism says it has more hotels opening this month in time for the event — boosting its room count.

Many fans have looked beyond traditional hotels, booking more than 90,000 hotel rooms, tents, apartments, and temporary “portacabins” during the peak days of what’s called the biggest sporting event on Earth, Reuters reported. Three cruise ships from MSC Cruises turned into floating hotels are also welcoming visitors.

So which hotel companies stand to gain the most? Richard Clarke, the senior analyst for global catering, global hotels, and leisure at Bernstein Research, in a report on Monday, said Hyatt and Accor have the best on-the-ground positioning to take the most advantage of the top prices being charged during the event:

The Qatar World Cup has thrown up some interesting innovations for lodging, including the sustainable solution of using existing residential units rather than building new hotels, employing Accor as a manager of those residential properties to provide housekeeping and front desk services and the creation a dedicated booking platform rather than using existing OTAs [online travel agencies].

The upside for the World Cup for the hotel groups is likely 1-2 percent in the fourth quarter from the high price points (1000 percent mark ups) of their rooms during the event with Hyatt having the highest % of its estate in Qatar, but Accor likely benefits the most due to its unique deal.

The online travel agencies will likely benefit far less because of the existence of a dedicated booking agent, which has more choice for the event than the global platforms.

Richard Clarke, the senior analyst from global catering, global hotels and leisure at Bernstein Research.
Source: Global Hotels & OTAs: Who will win the World Cup? by Richard Clarke and team at Bernstein Research.

Expect some hotels in the capital city of Doha to charge entrance fees for anyone visiting its bars and lounges to watch World Cup matches, adding to hotel revenues.

Travel Technology

Accor Subsidiary D-Edge Acquires Digital Marketing Company to Expand Services

3 months ago

The hotel tech services company owned by hotel giant Accor is strengthening its offerings through the acquisition of a digital marketing agency. 

Accor-owned D-Edge said this week that it has acquired Equaero, a Paris company that uses a proprietary software platform for marketing campaign tracking and reporting. 

Equaero is now a wholly owned subsidiary of D-Edge. It will continue being led by its founder and CEO, Jean-Dominique Brivet, who will report to D-Edge CEO Pierre-Charles Grob. All Equaero employees are expected to maintain their roles, according to a D-Edge spokesperson.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

D-Edge’s hotel offerings include central reservation software, a guest management system and more. The company has historically offered some digital advertising services to hotels through a partnership with Equaero. With the acquisition, those capabilities will become in-house services that D-Edge offers. 

Equaero has experience in digital strategy for very large accounts, which will be helpful as D-Edge further develops services for hotel chains, the company said. 

“As online sales continue to grow in the hotel industry, D-Edge — through its website development and digital media offerings — is already helping hoteliers drive more traffic to their websites and convert this traffic into more direct bookings,” D-Edge said in a statement. “By adding new capabilities and talents, D-Edge completes its service offering — [search engine optimization] to name just one — and provides hoteliers with an exhaustive, multi-channel digital marketing range of services.”

Accor formed D-Edge five years ago after two acquisitions. Grob said earlier this year that D-Edge roughly doubled its number of independent hotel customers during the pandemic, from 6,500 non-Accor hotels in July 2019 to more than 12,500 in April.

Tourism

UAE Developer Nakheel Secures $4.6 Billion Financing to Develop Dubai Islands 

3 months ago

Dubai-based property developer Nakheel announced it has secured $4.6 billion in strategic financing deal to drive what it calls, “the new phase of growth.”

The amount includes refinancing of $3 billion, and additional funds of $1.6 billion.

The developer of Palm Jumeirah said that the finance would be utilised to accelerate the development of its new projects including Dubai Islands and other large waterfront projects.

Looking to redefine the concept of waterfront living, Nakheel announced its plan to develop another man-made island — Dubai Islands — situated along the emirate’s northern coastline, comprising five islands over a total area of 17 square kilometres.

The property developer said Dubai Islands would be home to over 80 resorts and hotels, including luxury and wellness resorts, boutique, family and eco-conscious hotels.

This year, Nakheel announced that it would also relaunch and rebrand Palm Jebel Ali, a project that has been left dormant since 2009.

Recently, one of the mansions at the Palm Jumeirah sold for $82 million, pegging it to be the most expensive house sale ever in Dubai.

The $4.6 billion financing reflects the confidence of the banking institutions in the strategic new focus of the company, a Nakheel spokesperson said.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Nakheel said that it has invested in building a strong assets portfolio and pipeline of new developments in the last two years.

The company attributed the robust growth of the Dubai real estate sector to regulatory reforms, such as the issuance of long-term visas, and an economy buoyed by the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

Travel Technology

Spanish Hotel Software Startup Amenitiz Acquires French Business Training Tool

3 months 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

3 months 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. 

Tourism

Hong Kong Finally Looks to Scrap Hotel Quarantine Policy

4 months ago

As Hong Kong leaders acknowledge how stringent Covid policies have hammered the destination’s competitiveness, the government might soon be on its way to scrap the controversial hotel quarantine policy for inbound travelers.

On Tuesday, Chief Executive John Lee said an announcement was impending and the destination would look to allow more activities in an orderly manner.

“I’m conscious of the need to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness by ensuring that we have a good connectivity,” Lee said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “We will be announcing the measures once we’ve made the decision about what we’re going to do.”

While doing its best to control Covid-19, Lee said, the Hong Kong government would aim to have maximum connection with the international world and reduce inconvenience for inbound arrivals.

The country’s strict Covid rules have led to the cancellation of international events like the Hong Kong Marathon and the dragon boat race that moved to Thailand.

Noting that the convenience of cross-border travel is the core of restoring economic momentum, Paul Chan, the financial secretary of Hong Kong, also admitted that the current restrictions may discourage people from coming to Hong Kong.

The city is currently reporting around 6100 cases a day. 

Hong Kong is one of the last few destinations that still follows a stringent Covid policy for inbound arrivals requiring them to quarantine in a hotel for three days followed by four days of self-monitoring. Inbound arrivals are also required to carry a negative result proof of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken 48 hours before boarding.

Having assumed office since July 1, Lee has been working to ease the city’s isolation, reconnecting Hong Kong with the rest of the world.

Immediately after taking charge, Lee ended a controversial rule that banned individual flights if they brought in passengers infected with the coronavirus. In August, he shortened the Covid-19 hotel quarantine period for all arrivals to three days from seven.

Two weeks ago, the Hong Kong government also lifted rules requiring passenger crew to quarantine in a hotel for three days on return to the city.

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