Travel Tech Essentialist #11: Follow the Money

Note: this post was adapted from my Travel Tech Essentialist newsletter that I send every two weeks . Those interested can sign up here.

As Andreessen Horowitz highlights in one of the stories in this newsletter, some sectors such as healthcare and education have been somewhat immune to disruption. Travel, on the other hand, has been particularly hospitable to entrepreneurs and innovation. Thousands of startups around the world are working on new solutions to improve every single element of the travel journey. Venture capital financing has been instrumental in driving this innovation forward. The Lufthansa Innovation Hub report shows VC investment in the travel & mobility sector growing from $0.2 billion in 2010 (1% share of overall VC investment across all markets) to $44 billion in 2018 (18% share). Exciting times for the Travel Tech sector.

1. Venture Capital trends shaping Travel & Mobility Tech

A report elaborated by the Lufthansa Innovation Hub tracks venture capital investments in Travel & Mobility Tech and provides a detailed look at the 10 major trends that are impacting the sector as well as its most active investors. While innovation has accelerated dramatically over the past few years resulting in record amounts of venture capital invested, the Travel Tech space is entering a more challenging stage going into 2020.

2. OYO Hotels and Homes plans to raise an additional $1.5 billion

Ritesh Agarwal, the 25-year-old founder and CEO of OYO, said he will invest $700 million in the new $1.5 billion financing round, as the startup looks to expand in the US and Europe. Existing investors SoftBank, Lightspeed and Sequoia will also participate in the round, which would value the 6-year-old startup at $10 billion. Prior to this announcement, OYO had raised $1.7 billion.

3. Basketball superstar Steph Curry scores with SnapTravel

Curry was a lead investor in SnapTravel’s $21 million Series A round in Dec 2018 and has been very active in supporting the company, sending tweets to his 13.7 million followers, participating at Disrupt SF and sporting a SnapTravel hat in a 2019 NBA Finals press conference. The conversational commerce Canadian startup has grown to over 1 million hotel nights booked and $100 million in sales. Messaging (WhatsApp, Messenger) is responsible for 99% of its transactions.

4. VC Andreessen Horowitz on the future of travel experience

Andreessen Horowitz has made significant investments in travel & mobility, like Lyft, Airbnb and TripActions. A16Z partner Jeff Jordan sees the next generation of travel disruptors coming from markets that are now getting big enough on digital to support large businesses, such as alternative accommodations, corporate travel and other sectors that are being reimagined in a digital and mobile format. He sees potential in improving the overall travel experience by using the “digital exhaust” of data generated from our digital travel activity.

5. What the vacation rental industry can learn from Sonder

A few months ago, Sonder announced a $210 million Series D round, bringing its total raised to $400 million, with a valuation over $1 billion. Drew Patterson writes about how Sonder’s investor deck provides an interesting window into the sector and a road map for property managers to grow their businesses, as many of the tools that drive Sonder’s operations are commercially available to any property manager. By analyzing Sonder’s business drivers, other players can improve and grow.

6. What billions of GDS data signals tell us about traveler booking behavior

Travelport has analyzed MIDT data from the 3 GDSs (Travelport, Sabre, and Amadeus) for the last 12 months to produce a new report of the 6 dominant traveler personas that make up global travel bookings — solo travelers (18% of global bookings), families (almost 25%), business travelers, couples (14%), weekenders (25%) and groups. Interesting insights about booking behaviors and demographics that can help travel brands, particularly OTAs, create unique and personalized experiences.

7. Tours and Activities travel trends

TourScanner compiled a report on tours and travel activities analyzing the behavior of its one million visitors and 10,000 bookings in 2019. It covers the market (size, growth, relevant players, top countries, top destinations, top activities), as well as user behavior (demographics, devices, transactions breakdown).

8. Japan Airlines seat map helps avoid screaming babies

Finally, but as expected in a world where outrage has become our default operating system, some people don’t like it.

9. Funding

💰Beyond Pricing raised $42.5M to further develop its pricing tool technology for vacation rental managers and to expand its sales efforts in Europe. The company has over 4,000 customers who manage 150,000 properties in more than 7,000 cities. VRM Intel.

💰Aero raised $16 Million for private jet services connecting millennials with destinations that offer Instagram-worthy experiences. Skift

💰London-based Impala, a service that lets third-party hotel tech providers connect into property management systems, closed an $11 million Series A round. Skift.

10. Promising startups

→ Norway-based Sharebox is an app that allows for safe and convenient key exchange, completely managed on mobile devices. This video shows how Sixt uses Sharebox to manage its car rental check in process.

→ Boston-based Lumo produces detailed insight on potential flight delays months, weeks and hours ahead of time, allowing users to proactively avoid and manage disruptions. They have raised $2.3 million to date from Jetblue Technology Ventures and Plug & Play.

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