Nature all around you?
Launched in 2021, Raus provides users with a platform for nature-based stays. The German startup announced a new category focused on families, groups, and companies. In addition to this news, the company has received an additional €3 million in funding—all of which will be used for growth initiatives. The platform is often fully booked, and users love it: social activity is high, indicating a solid community.
Safe travel payments for everyone.
Travel payment solution Fly Now Pay Later has announced a partnership with Worldline, a digital payments provider, to streamline integration for travel merchants. The UK-based startup is the leading BNPL provider across the travel industry. This partnership will provide end-to-end integration for all Worldline’s merchants who arrive on TravelHub—its platform. Read more: FLY NOW PAY LATER INTEGRATES WITH WORLDLINE FOR FLEXIBLE PAYMENT OPTIONS
Shorter wait times and more flexibility at airports.
As part of an update to improve passenger experience at Geneva’s Airport, they just expanded the partnership with SITA. The main focus of the deal is to speed up passengers’ journey from check-in to boarding by installing self-service units at those stages. Read more: Press Release: SITA strengthens its partnership with Geneva Airport
Flexible environments for work and living.
The rise of the modern lifestyle has created a demand for fully furnished homes that can be rented short-term. Barcelona-based startup Ukio has secured €27 million to expand its rental platform. Founded in 2020, the rental startup has just secured fresh funding to grow its tech and develop more widely across Western Europe by the end of 2023. Read more: Barcelona-based Ukio raises €27 million to lead a residential revolution across Europe
Tourism tech made in Rio.
Rio de Janeiro’s tourism sector received the high-end digital presence it deserves with the relaunch of Visit.Rio, a platform that promotes attractions in Rio and brings together all the necessary information for tourists who want to visit. A similar platform to those used by other busy cities around the world like Paris, London, and Miami, Visit.Rio collects information about hotels, bars, and restaurants throughout the city. The platform provides a list of tourist attractions and tours, updated cultural agendas for each neighborhood, and information about transportation options. Read more: Visit.Rio platform launched with news for tourists
Uber adds Viator content and expands Uber Travel to 10,000 cities
Viator has been integrated into Uber Explore, a project launched in March to allow users to book activities and book a ride to the location. At launch, the content came from Yelp, and it now includes Viator and OpenTable. Explore is limited to 14 cities in the United States and Mexico City and Madrid, but Uber says it will add more markets in the future.
Launched in May in the United States and Canada, Uber Travel is now available to users worldwide. By connecting the Uber app to an email account, flight, hotel and restaurant reservations are automatically imported into the Uber app so travelers can book rides for their entire itinerary and earn 10% back in Uber Cash.
Q3 2022 revenue growth
Publicly traded OTAs and metas have posted strong growth vs Q3 2021. All of them also had an improvement vs pre-Covid Q3 2019 revenue.
The SaaS sector is undergoing a reset: on the public side, revenue multiples went down from 17x a year ago to 6x today. On the private side, funding is down 42% in Q3. This presentation by Accel dives deeper into how founders should think about their company valuation and how the public market dynamics impact private funding. The report concludes with six trends that Accel thinks have a strong chance of generating the future champions of the European and Israeli cloud ecosystem.
A new European destination for digital nomads
Sangria, tapas and… a laptop. Spain has become the latest country to offer a digital nomad visa and will allow remote workers to live and work in the country for up to five years. Digital nomads have become a trend in the travel industry (especially among millennials) having the freedom to work anywhere in the world. By the way, our team is currently working on a report focused on digital nomads and how different players from the travel industry can consider this niche audience in their business strategies. Read more: Spain is expected to launch its ‘digital nomad visa’ in January. Here’s what we know about the program so far.
Higher prices, just in time for the holidays
Well, this shouldn’t come as a surprise , but The Walt Disney World is changing its pricing structure, since the parks have been using dynamic pricing for the past four years, fluctuating prices based on demand. They will now increase prices for the first time since the pandemic began, raising their prices by around 15%. ICYMI: We talked about dynamic pricing in one of our reports earlier this year, where we explored how trends were emerging in the attraction industry. You can check the full report here. Read more: Disney World Is About To Get A Lot More Expensive
Ready to fund travel business operations
Known for their booking and payments platform for the multi-day travel industry, US-based WeTravel now wants to support any eligible travel business by providing instant funding options to support their operations. For now, the one-time loan is only available for North American companies. With access to funding, travel businesses can pursue new opportunities, expand market reach, invest in critical business infrastructure, or grow their operations – and this is exactly what WeTravel wants to boost through their WeTravel Growth Capital initiative. Read more: WeTravel offers growth capital loans to travel businesses
Fresh revenue for the lodging industry
The New York-based travel startup Hoken has raised $9 million to launch and run its fresh-off-the-press event-focused lodging marketplace. The startup’s vision is to provide a “highly curated and flexible hotel exchange and marketplace for the world’s most popular events.” Their initial kick-off will include events such as New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Coachella and Art Basel.
Better customer experiences, thanks to new tech
Northumberland Zoo wants to revolutionise how they generate income — while also educating visitors. To make the customer experience better and gather important data, the zoo owners partnered with n-gage.io, who provided a platform that helps to transform audience experiences by providing a highly customizable, data insight-driven SaaS platform with an integrated mobile-web application. The zoo has a strong focus on making the right impressions on visitors and influencing their behaviour – and their latest project is no exception. Read more: NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT NORTHUMBERLAND ZOO
Simplifying travel refunds and changes
Around 10% of all passengers carried by airlines each year have their tickets either refunded or changed. To tackle this headache time consuming issue, Miami-based Deal Engine handles operations such as refunds and changing flights for airlines, online travel agencies and travel management companies. The startup has raised $5.3 million in seed funding to accelerate their engineering, product, sales and global expansion. Now the team can focus on “simplifying complex manual processes and saving millions of human hours each year” – exactly what AI is all about, right?
Can we do more with fewer staff?
Just like everyone else in the industry, hoteliers are constantly looking for systems that allow them to get more done with less staff. Think Simplicity’s partnership with Cloudbeds will provide joint customers with streamlined, end-to-end solutions for property management and cloud communications. By integrating with Cloudbeds’ PMS solution, Think Simplicity will be able to offer its products and services to independent brand hotels. Read more: Think Simplicity and Cloudbeds Announce a Partnership
Airbnb’s focus on brand marketing seems to be working
Q3 was a good month for Airbnb:
- Revenue of $2.9 billion was its highest quarter ever
- Net income of $1.2 billion was its most profitable quarter ever
- Adjusted EBITDA of $1.5 billion was a record best
- Free Cash Flow of $960 million was the highest Q3 ever
Airbnb has made major changes to its marketing strategy in recent years. In 2019 it began trying to depend less on search advertising and to lean more on brand-building initiatives. Airbnb attributes part of its Q3 2022 success to its pivot away from performance marketing and toward PR, events, brand marketing and product marketing. According to Brian Chesky, Airbnb is no longer thinking of performance marketing as a way to “purchase customers” but more as a way to laser in to balance supply and demand. More than 90% of the traffic to Airbnb now arrives directly, unaided by search advertising. Somewhat similar to the concept of zero-click. It’s rare to see a company reduce its dependency on performance marketing. Airbnb is an interesting case study. Read more: Airbnb Says Its Focus on Brand Marketing Instead of Search Is Working
How to build winning paid membership programs
Chinese platforms have been experimenting with paid membership models for over a decade, unlike in the West, where early experimentation has been fairly basic. This article by Connie Chan, GP at Andreessen Horowitz, dives into the opportunity for paid membership programs in the West based on learnings from China’s social media giants. It lays out four frameworks for designing successful programs and explores the impact of paid memberships on the consumer experience. Membership programs are not just a new revenue stream; more importantly, they can deepen user engagement and turn average users into super users.
Consumer subscription software report
Bullhound published a comprehensive report on the state of consumer subscription software (CSS). It also highlights case studies from travel companies RV Life and Scott’s Cheap Flights. A few of the takeaways:
- The average rate of first-year subscription renewal is ~30% with best-in-class at >60%. Exceptional CSS businesses renew 50%+ of each annual cohort and 40% of Year 2.
- Most apps have first-year renewals between 17% and 40% with Productivity tools and Lifestyle tools outperforming other categories.
- CAC payback of <3 months is critical to counter the high churn of initial users.
- 50%+ of users coming through organic channels is generally considered great.
- The true impact of iOS 15 is now clear. Many CSS companies have shifted spend toward the Apple store. Apple’s in-house ads were responsible for 50% of app downloads in 2022, up from 20% in April 2021.
Reshaping the airline organization for the future of retail
BCG and IATA coauthored an article on the airline industry’s transition from revenue management to offer management, a new approach to retailing products and improving the customer experience. In doing so, airlines need to build new teams and capabilities, reconfigure their processes, and adapt their employees’ roles, responsibilities, and ways of working. Read more: Reshaping the Airline Organization for the Future of Retail
Semi-controversial thoughts on the future
Many interesting ideas in George Mack’s tweet thread. Here are a few that have an impact on travel innovation:
- Slowmadism > Nomadism. Moving every 2 weeks makes for an amazing Instagram page but a terrible life. Slowmadism, moving between 2-3 locations per year, will become more popular.
- Migration-as-a-service. Relocating is a nightmare and a bureaucratic mess. There will be a billion-dollar company that fixes this problem. Insured Nomads, one of the startups that I shared in my November cohort of startups in Travel Investor Network addresses a slice of this trend.
- Company Tourism. Until VR hits its end goal, teams will 10x their creative output by being together in person – not remotely. B2B creative retreats will only get more popular. Examples: TROOP, TeamOut, BoomPop.
- The World Is Flat. The winners of remote work will be skillful people in the developing world. The losers of remote work will be unskilled people in the developed world. Think of Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest, but on a global level.
18 semi-controversial thoughts on the future:
1. The World Is Flat – The winners of remote work will be skillful people in the developing world. The losers of remote work will be unskilled people in the developed world.
— George Mack (@george__mack) October 28, 2022
Spotlight on airline tech innovators
Data and digital technology are transforming the airline industry. OAG highlights how 15 airlines (such as Ryanair, Easyjet, Lufthansa, Jetblue, and Southwest) are using technology to innovate in booking, check-in, boarding, flight operations, customer service and experience. Read more: Spotlight on Airline Tech Innovators
Travel and Hospitality: global outlook and innovation guide
Euromonitor published a travel and hospitality outlook whitepaper. Some of the items it covers:
- Travel is back. Staycations are slowing down while international travel is flourishing, growing 88% in 2022.
- What key technologies do travel providers consider most crucial (data and analytics is #1).
- How to manage external inflationary pressures
- How consumers have shifted their focus towards activities, destinations and experiences that are most in line with their personal values and beliefs
- Regional spotlights
Give value upfront with zero-click content
More than 66% of Google searches end without a click, as Google satisfies many queries without the user needing to click on a result. Zero-Click content is content that offers valuable, standalone insights with no need to click. It’s pretty much the opposite of clickbait. Zero-Click content means less time wasted for you. It adds value without needing to click. Clicking is an enhancement to the experience, but it’s not obligatory. Give enough value upfront, and if you want to learn more, you can click to read on (in this case, the full article by Amanda Natividad). But you don’t need to. Brand building is increasingly about building trust. Zero-click content does that.
OTAs post strong results in Q3 2022
Airbnb, Expedia and Booking all delivered record quarterly revenue and EBITDA. Airbnb had the largest revenue growth (32%) of all three, despite having the lowest marketing spend as a percentage of revenue. Airbnb’s marketing/revenue ratio is 13%, vs Expedia’s 42% and Booking’s 30%.
Travel app Hopper flying high with fresh $96 million raise.
It seems the travel bug is still around, and as people are still itching to get away, investments in the companies making it happen are still taking off. Now, travel app Hopper, which has been showing the benefits of agility and timely-executed pivots since its 2007 launch, has raised $96 million, reaching a total raise of $740 million to date. With more than 80 million downloads and sales of flights, hotels, homes and rental cars on the platform set to exceed $4.5 billion this year, it’s one of the largest travel apps. And, if that wasn’t enough, Alexander Gevers Deynoot from the firm, joined our Summit last week. Read more: Travel app Hopper raises $96M from Capital One to double down on social commerce
Busbud and Betterez merge for smoother bus travel.
Canadian travel companies Busbud and Betterez have just announced their joining forces – a bus collision that makes for good news. Busbud connects travellers and bus operators, offering more than 3 million routes worldwide whilst Betterez’s reservation system and ticket management platform is used by more than 50 bus operators in a dozen countries around the world. The idea is to enhance digitisation of ground transport, making bus travel more accessible and unlocking more route coverage on a global level. At the same time, Busbud has shared that Amadeus just invested some capital – it’s undisclosed but it’ll be interesting to see what new developments are to come. Read more: BUSBUD MERGES WITH BETTEREZ, GETS FUNDING FROM AMADEUS VENTURES
Hotels out and serviced apartments in?
It’s been one of the big trends in hospitality this year – it seems that more and more travellers are looking for homely experiences whilst travelling, opting for vacation rentals and apartments that also give the luxury of staying in a 5* hotel. Reflecting this trend, Munich-based limehome has just raised €45 million as it reports over the past year, occupancy rates across the portfolio, which spans 100 locations, have been sitting at 90% with high profitability. Read more: limehome receives 45 million euros in new funding round
TripActions snaps up Spanish player.
TripActions is certainly taking action when it comes to establishing themselves on the global stage. Now, Reed & Mackay, part of the TripActions Group, has acquired Spanish corporate travel company Atlanta Events & Corporate Travel Consultants. This marks the 4th deal of its kind in 18 months for TripActions as the firm takes on the European continent. Read more: TRIPACTIONS GAINS FOOTHOLD IN SPAIN WITH LATEST ACQUISITION
Hospitality staffing needs a rethink, and the Qwick solution is looking popular.
As the staffing crisis within hospitality has been laid clear, one startup thinks it has the solution, and investors are in agreement. Qwick, a staffing-as-a-service platform has just secured $40 million to scale. Its platform connects service-industry professionals directly with food and beverage shifts in real-time, provides them with the flexibility to work on their own schedules and enables them to get paid as quickly as 30 minutes after their shift – a gamechanger for the industry that could solve many of the underlying problems. Read more: HOSPITALITY STAFFING PLATFORM QWICK CLOSES $40M FUNDING ROUND TO “END UNDERSTAFFING”
Wave goodbye to travel fragmentation.
Hyper-personalization is the trend-de-jour in the travel world. Travellers want, and expect, to be able to customise their trip to meet their exact wants, desires and dreams. Not asking for much, right? Well South Korean startup Globaleur doesn’t think so. The traveltech company has just raised $2.5 million and set up an office in Singapore. It leverages AI solutions to solve the issue of the fragmented travel industry by connecting the end-to-end travel experience, offering a seamless travel experience to their end users while personalizing offers & itineraries. What makes it special is that it addresses travel through 3 steps – pre-flight, in-flight, and in-destination. Read more: Travel AI startup, Globaleur, raises 2.5m USD to connect end-to-end experience
Share cars, don’t rent them, says Invygo.
Car subscription startup Invygo has just raised $10 million to expand its platform that allows customers to choose, drive and swap cars at the tap of a button. Based between Dubai and Riyadh, the app operates by partnersing with third party car disruptors and rental companies, from which users can rent cars for a monthly subscription fee. It offers an interesting proposition for those who are staying for longer trips and need new ways to get around. Think of those opting for vacation rentals rather than hotels – now they might have a way to have a car as well… Read more: CAR SUBSCRIPTION STARTUP INVYGO DRIVES OFF WITH $10M FOR EXPANSION
Barcelona’s Lodgify takes home €30 million.
While the appetite for vacation rentals rumbles on, those with homes to rent out have both more travellers to target and more competition in the market. Becoming successful in this space, and standing out from the crowd, relies on being heard and seen in the digital sphere, and with the digitalisation of management tools, hosts and vacation rental businesses can grow by tapping into an international market. Helping them to do this is Lodgify – and it’s had a big year of growth, now raising a fresh €30 million. Read more: Barcelona-based Lodgify lands €30 million as vacation rental market heats up
Is a picture worth a thousand words? Not in this campaign, which shows the power of copywriting
The new British Airways ad campaign captures the wonder of travel with no visuals whatsoever, just simple and evocative copy lines. The campaign consists of 500 unique print, digital and outdoor ads for this campaign. Here are a few: British Airways’ New Ads Will Make You Love Copywriting Again
How AI copywriters are changing SEO
AI-generated copy is being used to produce SEO-driven content at scale. Chris Tweten (CMO at Spacebar Collective, a SEO agency) writes about how the widespread adoption of AI tools like Jasper and CopyAI is sparking new questions: How do AI copywriters stack up against human writers? How is the increased use of AI writing tools impacting SEO and search results? How can companies and creators intelligently use this AI revolution to their advantage? Read more: How AI Copywriters Are Changing SEO
Culture and brands
Toby Shorin recently published an essay that took him 6 years to write. Life After Lifestyle describes how brands integrate themselves into the cultural landscape. He writes about the implications of the Direct To Consumer brand overload of the 2010s and how we respond to the designed cultures and connected cults of today’s brands. It’s not a light read, and it’s 10,000 words long, so take your time. A 60-word extract:
The Lifestyle era was not about creating culture; it was about attaching brands onto existing cultural contexts. It was not about shaping people; it was about sorting consumer demographics into niche categories. The new order we are entering into reverses this. For some organizations, culture has become the product itself, and products have become secondary, auxiliary, to the production of culture.
Quitting is a skill we need to get better at
Annie Duke is a First Round VC Partner for Decision Science. In this interview, she goes over the psychology behind why it’s so hard to quit and walk away. She highlights the cognitive biases to be aware of, from how identity can become enmeshed in company-building, to sunk cost fallacy, to the common tendency to make incremental changes instead of taking more drastic measures. She also provides some tactical advice on how founders can address these cognitive challenges and make the right difficult decisions. Read more: Grit or Quit? Tactical Advice for Founders Facing Tough Company Building Decisions
Fundraising when capital becomes more expensive
In normal market conditions, investors use contract terms (liquidation preferences > 1x, warrants, anti-dilution clauses) less frequently to invest at the valuation a founder wants, but with terms that make sense for the investor. In a down market, when capital is more expensive and valuations are down, “structured deals” (deals with non-standard clauses) become more common as founders look for ways to avoid a down round. Andreessen Horowitz wrote a post to help startups better understand the different contract terms used to increase headline valuation, how investors think of and use those terms and the impacts that founders need to take into account, especially on equity dilution, before signing the round. Read more: Funding When Capital Isn’t Cheap
Down Rounds: Deal With Reality
Brad Feld (VC at Foundry Group )recommends that when you have a choice between financing at a lower valuation and financing “with all kinds of crazy structure” to try to maintain a previous valuation, negotiate the best price you can but do a clean financing with no structure. Read more: Down Rounds: Deal With Reality
Selina goes public
Selina debuted as a public company following its merger with a SPAC. Selina is one of the world’s largest hospitality brands built to address the needs of Millennial and Gen Z travelers. It is positioned to address a growing market with niche preferences, blending designed accommodations with coworking, recreation, wellness, and local experiences.
The most downloaded OTA apps in the first half of 2022
Fundraising and M&A
- Barcelona-based Ukio, a premium apartment rental platform for Europe’s ‘flexible workforce,’ raises $28 million
- UAE-based proptech startup Silkhaus raised $7.75 million in seed funding to digitize short-term rentals across emerging markets.
- Deal Engine, an AI-enabled platform that automates airline ticket refunds and changes, closed $5.3 million in seed funding in a round led by F-Prime Capital with participation from Thayer Ventures, PAR Capital Management, Plug and Play.
- Raus, a platform for nature-based stays, raised €3 million in funding from investors including Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk
- Houston-based SHR acquired Avvio, an Ireland-based Hotel Tech startup.
- Capital One invested an additional $96 million in Hopper. In March 2021, it led Hopper’s Series F round of $170 million, marking the launch of Hopper Cloud. This B2B initiative generates 40% of Hopper’s revenue. Read more: Hopper Builds on Capital One Partnership With $96M Raise
- On-demand car rental app Kyte raised $60 million in Series B in pursuit of becoming the world’s largest operator of electrified fleets. Read more: Hotel Marketplace Hoken Raises $9M to Disrupt Lodging Industry
- Munich-based short- and long-term accommodation startup limehome closed a €45 million round. Read more: limehome receives €45m in growth capital
- Barcelona-based Lodgify, a vacation rental SaaS platform, raised $30 million in Series B. Read more:
- Texas-based Way raised a $20 million Series A round. Way’s platform connects consumers with hotels via curated immersive experiences, local events and brand activations. Read more: Vacation rental SaaS platform Lodgify raises $30 million
- Long-term car rental subscription startup Invygo, operating in UAE and Saudi Arabia, raised a $10 million Series A round. Read more: Vacation rental SaaS platform Lodgify raises $30 million
- NY-based Hoken raised $9 million for its event-focused lodging exchange and marketplace. Read more: Hotel Marketplace Hoken Raises $9M to Disrupt Lodging Industry
- UK-based Journey Hospitality secured £5 million in growth capital. It offers an all-in-one eCommerce platform for hotels to sell everything online. Read more: Journey Hospitality completes £5M growth capital raise
- Denver-based BookOutdoors, raised $4 million in Seed funding to launch its outdoor travel planning and booking platform. Read more: BookOutdoors Launches With $4M in Seed Funding
- Globaleur closed a pre-series A round of $2.5 million. The South Korean startup uses AI to help travel providers personalize guest offers and experiences. Read more: Globaleur raises US$2.5m to connect end-to-end experience
- Montréal-based intercity ground travel marketplace Busbud acquired Toronto’s Betterez to bring a reservation and ticketing platform to its network of transportation partners. Read more: AS DEMAND BOOMS AND RECESSION LOOMS, BUSBUD ACQUIRES FELLOW CANADIAN TRAVEL TECH STARTUP BETTEREZ
- Payments technology company ConnexPay announced a $110 million growth equity investment led by FTV Capital. The funding will help the Atlanta-based company to expand in Europe. Its technology integrates both sides of the payment ecosystem – accepting and making payments – inside a single platform. Read more: Payments Platform ConnexPay Raises $110M, Plans European Expansion
- Vacation rental company Holidu closed a €100 million Series E financing round led by 83North. Read more: Holidu raises over €100M in oversubscribed Series E Round
- Real-time charter bus marketplace CharterUP raised $60 million Series A led by Tritium Partners to reinforce its $150 million ARR and accelerate aggressive national expansion and product development. Read more: Real-Time Charter Bus Marketplace CharterUP Raises $60M Series A Led by Tritium Partners
- Hotel tech company Canary Technologies closed a $30 million Series B round led by Insight Partners, with continued participation from F-Prime Capital, Y-Combinator and Thayer Ventures. Its platform is used by thousands of hotels in more than 75 countries, and offers an array of products. Read more: CANARY TECHNOLOGIES LANDS $30M TO ENHANCE HOTEL PLATFORM
- WeTravel raised $27 million in Series B. The company is a booking & payments platform for multi-day travel used by 3000+ companies to accept payments instantly, manage bookings, and transfer funds globally. Read more: WeTravel books $27M to build fintech and more for bespoke group travel
- Lodging e-commerce solutions provider RootRez raised $1.8 million in seed funding for expansion. Founded in 2015 as the booking engine and lodging service provider for the Sundance Film Festival, RootRez has grown to serve 50+ cities in North America. Read more: ROOTREZ RAISES $1.8M TO LAUNCH LODGING E-COMMERCE SOFTWARE IN NEW MARKETS
- Months after raising a $30 million Series A round, Amenitiz acquired Ododo, a French leader in online hotel training. Amenitiz is a Barcelona-based startup that provides an operating system for independent hoteliers.