Skift Breaking News Blog

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

Business Travel

Former Kayak Exec Jan Valentin Joins Rail Tech Startup Seatfrog

3 weeks ago

Former Kayak Europe leader and now travel investor Jan Valentin has joined Seatfrog‘s board of directors, as the rail startup looks to move on from the pandemic by tapping into the trend for more sustainable travel.

The app, which lets train travelers upgrade their ticket at a reduced rate on the original cost by bidding, was named a Skift Top Travel Startup to Watch in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, and it lost 97 percent of its revenue.

Now the company wants to put coronavirus behind it with the appointment of Valentin, who used to be Kayak’s managing director and senior vice president in Europe. Valentin also runs ennea capital partners, which in 2020 merged with Howzat Partners to create a new $100 million fund to invest in travel startups and other digital businesses.

Howzat also invested in Seatfrog’s $1.2 million seed round, but Skift understands no extra investment accompanied Valentin’s appointment to the board.

Valentin is also a backer of Comtravo, the German corporate travel agency that was recently bought by TripActions.

Seatfrog said in a statement Valentin joins at a perfect time to support the company’s mission to reimagine the rail experience in a category that has been “trundling along without meaningful innovation for decades.”

“Governments are spending $400 billion plus in Europe to drive modal shift to more sustainable train travel, but it remains a massively under-digitized category, and the customer experience is a mess,” he said.

Seatfrog said it had recorded 1,400 percent growth so far this year, and is expanding internationally.

“We’ve delighted millions of passengers, and driven large revenue uplifts for rail companies well beyond the capabilities of the category’s legacy systems,” added Iain Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Seatfrog.

Hotels

SiteMinder Buys Hotel Tech Firm GuestJoy and Reports a Revenue Recovery

1 month 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 Agents

Reposite Raises $7.5 Million to Simplify Group Travel Bookings

1 month ago

Reposite, a maker of software for travel agents and advisors, has raised $7.5 million.

The company wants to establish itself as “the definitive group travel tool that fuels discovery and simplifies coordination for travel planners.”

The New York-headquartered startup was founded to address the needs of the group travel market, and in particular it wants to simplify it by leveraging data to consolidate planning.

Its supplier marketplace aids planners in finding new suppliers and receive proposals for their active trips. As well as activity providers it connects to restaurants, hotels, venues and transportation, and can notify them of trips happening in their area, so they can proactively connect with planners to win new business.

Current customers include Virgin Holidays, TUI, Bloomingdales, Major League Baseball and Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chao.

“We believe that group travel planning is ready for a data-driven refresh,” said Reposite co-founder Alexa Berube.

The round was co-led by returning investors Liberty City Ventures and Greycroft, with participation from MATH Ventures and BDMI. In 2020 it raised $2.5 million in funding.

Travel Booking

Citi Is Developing a Travel Platform with Booking.com

1 month ago

Financial services firm Citi is launching Citi Travel later this year. The travel booking platform will be powered by Booking.com and its Rocket Travel subsidiary.

The portal is set to replace its existing City Thank You Travel Center website, and will offer hotel, air, and car hire options.

“Leveraging the scale and range of Booking.com, the new Citi Travel provides an unmatched breadth of hotel reservation options,” the companies said in a joint statement. “With more than 1.4 million hotels available worldwide — ranging from boutiques to beloved chains — there is the right option for every budget, vacation type and preference.”

Banks are continuing to develop travel products to gain more loyalty from their customers, giving them more options to spend their points. Capital One has recently invested in Hopper as well as private jet startup Aero.

Earlier this year, JP Morgan bought luxury travel agency Frosch, while in Nov. 2021, U.S. Bancorp acquired Will Smith-Backed TravelBank for $200 million.

Travel Technology

JetBlue-Backed Startup Flyr Buys Airline E-Commerce Company Newshore

3 months ago

Flyr Labs, which sells software to airlines to help them set their fares in revenue-boosting ways, has bought Newshore, a Barcelona-based software business that helps airlines with selling.

The companies didn’t share the deal terms or price. They said the acquisition would help Flyr’s clients in a few ways, such as by helping carriers more accurately predict buying patterns and respond to disruptions.

“Newshore’s disruption management solution automatically manages and communicates remediations to customers – streamlining many previously inefficient manual processes,” said a spokesperson. The software tools sync with the most commonly used airline technology systems.

Newshore’s Internet booking engine, its tools for improving upselling, and other services, will also appeal to airline customers, the companies said.

Flyr is a San Francisco-based startup backed by JetBlue Airways’ corporate venture arm JetBlue Technology Ventures. It has disclosed raising more than $150 million in funding from multiple investors to date.

See the press release for details.

Travel Technology

Amadeus Launches Market Forecasting Tool for Hoteliers

3 months ago

Amadeus said on Wednesday that it had launched a market forecast capability “to help hoteliers accurately track revenue and manage costs.” The tool is part of its business intelligence software suite, RevenueStrategy360, for hotels that it expanded after its acquisition of TravelClick several years ago.

“Most tools today look at historical data, but ours focuses on forward-looking data,” said Katie Moro, vice president of data partnerships. “We track on-the-books reservations data from companies that both use our services and those that don’t. We blend it with historical seasonality and trends.”

Moro spoke from Orlando at the trade show HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference).

More than half of hotel bookings are being made within a week of travel, Moro said, citing data for bookings being made across all channels for about 35,000 hotels globally using Amadeus’s business intelligence software. So many revenue managers at hotels have shorter windows to make decisions on rates, promotions, and allocating inventory.

Amadeus’ forward-looking data shows global hotel bookings are on par with 2019 and surging.

“We’re tracking on a weekly basis hotel reservations coming in, less cancellations,” Moro said. “For the week ending June 17, we saw an increase of about half a million reservations over the week prior. We had also seen a huge spike ahead of Memorial Day, so it’s possible this increased demand is for the July holidays.”

Business Travel

Mondee Adds 6 Million Subscribers Ahead of SPAC Deal

4 months ago

Travel technology company Mondee has seen “enhanced marketing costs” as it builds up the number of subscribers for its travel platforms.

The company now has 10 million users signed up to its subscription products including TripPlanet and Unpub, compared to four million in December last year. The boost may be a result of its new alliance with Arthur J. Gallagher, which gave it access to 287,000 business and organizations.

However, gaining new subscribers comes at a cost. Mondee posted a net loss of $7 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022, “after enhanced marketing costs to acquire lifetime customers and increase market share at this opportune inflection point of post-pandemic recovery.”

Mondee made a net loss of $12 million in the 2021 first quarter.

Gross revenue was $469 million, up 205 percent year-over-year, compared to $154 million in the first quarter of 2021. Net revenue was $38 million, up 179 percent year-over-year.

The results were posted on Friday, ahead of its planned business combination with Ithax Acquisition Corp. Mondee wants to list on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “MOND”.

Its adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was $2 million, an improvement of $6 million compared to a loss of $4 million in the first quarter last year.

Last month Ithax, a special purpose acquisition company, raised an additional $20 million for its private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from Elliott Management and Siris Capital — the institutional investors who happen to be owners of Travelport.

Founder and CEO Prasad Gundumogula has said the company was ready to get back to a vigorous tempo of growth it saw before coronavirus. “The Mondee Marketplace made significant progress, buoyed not only by the post-pandemic travel recovery, but also by our unique traveltech ecosystem, causing us to regain the vigorous tempo of our pre-pandemic organic growth,” he said.

“Our customers and travelers have been early adopters of our recent fintech, martech, insurtech, and other ancillary offerings, driving the almost three-fold organic increase in our year-over-year net revenue.”

Filters

Tags

travel-technology

Clear Filters