Page 4

Skift Travel News Blog

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

Mergers and Acquisitions

TripAdd Acquires Chatbot Startup Eddy Travels to Boost User Recommendations

9 months ago

Eddy Travels, a digital travel assistant service founded by entrepreneur Edmundas Balcikonis, is being acquired by TripAdd, a New York-based travel product provider, a subsidiary of the Blue Ribbon Bags group, the world’s leading service for lost luggage tracking. TripAdd hopes to bolster revenues through personalized bundle recommendations for users.

Financial details of the deal, announced on Friday, were not disclosed. The companies only described it as a “multi-million dollar acquisition.”

Eddy Travels was founded in 2019 with the goal of bringing the world of travel to messaging apps, offering an artificial intelligence (AI) service that facilitates the process of travel for its customers. This includes planning flights, booking hotels, and searching for restaurants, amongst other things. The service is made possible by Eddy AI, a chatbot assistant, which uses so-called natural language processing (NLP) to help users find what they’re looking for.

Co-founder and CEO Balcikonis, is excited to join TripAdd for an optimized experience of the digital marketplace. “They are extremely business savvy, with amazing sales and marketing skills,” Balcikonis said about TripAdd, “which perfectly complement our technology and product development capabilities.”

Both parties expressed their excitement about the merger, looking to put their services together to maximize the travel experience for the customer.


Travel Site Map Happy Becomes a Penske Media Brand

9 months ago

Map Happy, a news-you-can-use, consumer travel site run by co-founder and CEO Erica Ho, has joined Penske Media as part of its SHE Media network of voicey content brands, such as SheKnows, BlogHer, STYLECASTER, and Soaps.

The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal but Ho said it would “bring more firepower.”

Map Happy has offered travelers advice on all aspects of traveling. While primarily supported by ads and affiliate links, it has had an independent editorial streak, such as its 2017 review of why an Away suitcase disappointed a reviewer.

While the U.S.-based company has mostly been a sole proprietorship, it has stood out for being owned and led by a woman in a media market still too often dominated by male voices. Independent product reviews along the lines of a Wirecutter for travel remains in short supply, too, and Ho made sure that reviews have tended focus on questions such as “Is this useful to me when I plan my travels? Can I use this in every market I go to? Are there lots of markets covered?”

Penske has been on an acquisition tear in recent years, as the New York Times reported earlier this year.

Business Travel

Flight Centre Travel Group Plays Down Rumors It’s Buying U.S. Agency Altour

9 months ago

Flight Centre Travel Group has rebuked “media M&A speculation” that it is poised to buy U.S. travel management company Altour.

“Flight Centre Travel Group (FLT or Company) is aware of media speculation in The Australian newspaper claiming FLT is considering the potential acquisition of a corporate travel business in the USA,” it said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on Aug. 30.

“While it is company policy to not respond to media speculation, the company has had, and continues to have, various discussions with a number of parties regarding strategic opportunities.”

Last week the group boasted its FCM Travel division was the only global alternative to the legacy travel management companies. However, the intention to consider acquisition opportunities to complement organic growth was outlined in the company’s recent results, where it reported a loss of $127 million for 2022.

A U.S. division would make sense to expand its footprint. Australia’s Corporate Travel Management, for example, said it reaped the benefits of its own U.S. acquisition, Travel and Transport, in its most recent results that saw it record a full-year profit of $41.4 million.

Altour is part of the Internova Travel Group, which is owned by Certares, which is also an investor in American Express Global Business Travel, via a group of investors it leads. Amex GBT listed on the New York Stock Exchange in May this year.

Skift contacted Internova for comment.


SiteMinder Buys Hotel Tech Firm GuestJoy and Reports a Revenue Recovery

10 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.


Colombia’s Viva Air Officially Seeks Merger With Abra

10 months ago

Colombian budget airline Viva Air has officially applied to regulators to become part of Abra, the new airline group being formed by the merger of Avianca and Gol.

Under plans unveiled in May, Viva would become one of four airlines in Abra if its joint application with Avianca to Colombia’s civil aviation regulator, Aerocivil, Monday is approved. Avianca and Viva announced plans to combine but continue to operate separately shortly before the Abra deal.

(Viva Air)

Abra aims to become a multinational South American airline group akin to International Airlines Group or the Lufthansa Group in Europe. The four-way merger would create a regional competitor Latam Airlines Group, which is the largest in South America. Recently restructured Avianca and Gol in Brazil will be the anchor airlines of Abra and joined by Viva, as well as a minority stake in Chilean discounter Sky Airline. Together, the carriers would have significant shares in the Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Peru markets.

“The rapid approval of this integration and therefore the incorporation of Viva into Grupo Abra is vital for the sustainability and development of our company in the future,” Grupo Viva CEO Félix Antelo said in a statement translated with Google Translate.

Antelo did not mention a timeline but asked Aerocivil for a “prompt” decision. The application comes a day after Colombia’s new leftist president, Gustavo Petro, was sworn in to office.

Travel Technology

Sabre Buys Payment Tech Firm Conferma Pay in Bet on Virtual Cards for Business Travel

10 months ago

Sabre acquired payments technology vendor Conferma Pay based in the UK, on August 3, the travel tech company confirmed in a statement to Skift. The travel technology company based in Southlake, Texas, didn’t reveal deal terms.

“Sabre has had a successful partnership with Conferma Pay for many years, and Conferma Pay is the basis upon which its Sabre Virtual Payments proposition is built,” a spokesperson said.

Conferma Pay provides software and commercial deals to help the travel industry move to virtual cards, where a business traveler buys each thing with a separate virtual number. So-called virtual cards can provide more secure authentication than traditional processes and more easily adapt to mobile wallets, such as India’s Paytm and China’s Alipay. (Skift has covered this in its recent megatrend Travel Payments Find Path to Painless.)

During the pandemic, Conferma Pay signed many deals and created integrations to help spread the adoption of virtual payments. In late 2020, it helped Visa launch Visa Commercial Pay, a suite of business-to-business payment solutions that strive to replace most manual processes.

Business Travel News Europe was the first to report on the acquisition.

Short-Term Rentals

Australia’s Alloggio Expands Short-Term Vacation Rental Network

10 months ago

Alloggio, a short-term rental property manager based in Australia, has invested $11 million ($16 million Australian) since its November initial public offering. The small company has acquired rights to manage properties and getting its own channel manager by acquiring, reported The Australian.

The company is strengthening its position as one of the country’s managers of short-term rentals and vacation homes through a series of acquisitions of companies, including Great Ocean Road Holidays, Best of Magnetic, Prestige Holiday Homes, First National Magnetic Holiday Rent Roll, and The Edge Holiday Rent Roll at Coffs Harbour.

Alloggio now manages about 1,950 holiday homes in the country. For fiscal year 2022, it expects to generate revenue of at least $14 million ($21.5 million Australian) and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of at least $7 million ($10.5 million Australian).

Travel Technology

Cendyn Buys DigitalHotelier to Expand Hotel Ecommerce and Distribution Tools

10 months ago

Cendyn, which offers customer relationship management and digital marketing tools to hotels, said on Wednesday it had acquired DigitalHotelier, which provides hoteliers with tools for distribution, web design, digital marketing, and rate-setting.

The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal. The London-based Digitalhotelier was a bootstrapped company of a few dozen workers. It saw a reduction in its business development staff during the pandemic.

The acquisition helps Florida-based Cendyn expand its distribution and eCommerce capabilities, which help hoteliers drive more direct bookings. But probably as importantly, it helps Cendyn reach more customers in Europe.

Accel-KKR, a technology-focused private equity firm based in Silicon Valley, is a majority owner of Cendyn.

“Our mission at Cendyn is to provide hoteliers around the globe with innovative technology solutions that enable deeper, more profitable guest relationships,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO and president at Cendyn, in a statement.

Official Cendyn announcement


Shareholder Group Recommends Against Spirit-Frontier Merger

11 months ago

Shareholder group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) is advising investors in Spirit Airlines to vote against a proposed merger with Frontier Airlines.

“The proposal from JetBlue appears to represent a superior alternative,” ISS said in a report Friday. “Shareholders are therefore recommended to vote AGAINST the proposed merger with Frontier.”

The recommendation is a reverse of ISS’ last advisory for a Frontier merger on June 24.

(Edward Russell/Skift)

Frontier CEO Barry Biffle, in a letter to Spirit CEO Ted Christie on July 10, said they were “very far” from garnering shareholder support for the Spirit-Frontier combination. He added that Frontier would not “propose any further modifications to the financial terms” of its merger proposal, which was valued at roughly $2.4 billion in cash and stock at the end of June.

JetBlue’s all-cash offer is valued at nearly $3.8 billion, including a $400 million reverse break-up fee.

Spirit, while it continues discussions with both Frontier and JetBlue, has repeatedly backed a merger with Frontier citing lower regulatory approval risk. The main concern is JetBlue’s unwillingness to offer to end its alliance with American Airlines in the northeast in exchange for antitrust approval. JetBlue has offered to divest all of Spirit’s assets in Boston and New York — the two markets covered by the American alliance — as well as gates at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

Spirit shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Frontier proposal on July 27.

Travel Technology

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

11 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.




Clear Filters