Travel startups continue to rack up venture capital dollars as more people feel comfortable traveling amid the global pandemic. The latest is SmarterTravel, which generated $ 9.5 million in Series B funds co-led by Link Ventures and Second Alpha, with participation from existing investors.
In addition to the fundraising, the company, a provider of personalized travel recommendations and targeted travel content, announced its name change from HopJump, reflecting the company’s renewed vision of providing an informative online travel experience, he said. CEO Jordan Staab at TechCrunch.
SmarterTravel has 7 million email newsletter subscribers and uses proprietary artificial intelligence corrections to provide customers with travel and discount information. The company writes articles on all facets of travel to inform customers, especially now that airlines, hotels and countries impose certain restrictions on travel.
“The travel consumer is changing the way they absorb information,” Staab said. “The consumer comes to us instead of visiting 20 websites before booking. Before, you may have gone through the reviews, but now you just want an expert to tell you, and that’s who we are. “
HopJump was started in 2018 by Staab as a digital marketing agency helping big brands with user acquisition campaigns. While preparing for an initial public offering, Staab said the company wanted to move towards building its own brand and saw an opportunity in travel, which represents a large market: 10% of global gross domestic product, he added.
The company went on to offer consumers discounted travel prices at hotels, but found it challenging. There are many nuances and different approaches to offering four-star hotel rooms at two-star prices and bundling tactics, Staab explained.
“We fell in love with the simplicity of the process,” he said. “Consumers just want a good price from a company they trust, and that’s what we set out to fix.”
In January 2020, the company launched its first product and 60 members joined in the first few months, but then the global pandemic struck. Suddenly, HopJump went from managing rapid growth to managing how the business might go out of business.
Still eager to keep traveling, the company turned its focus back to marketing so it could further examine the travel industry, he said. While the company was calculating its next move, Staab said the folks at SmarterTravel helped them, and when he learned that his parent company TripAdvisor needed to make layoffs and that the division was going to be laid off, he decided to do so. buy that asset along with seven others, including Airfarewatchdog, Family Vacation Critic, and Oyster. The deal closed in 2020.
Lisa Dolan, CEO of Link Ventures, said SmarterTravel’s growth was one of the drivers of her company’s investment. When no one was traveling due to COVID, the company acquired travel companies and managed to overcome the pandemic while other startups in space were struggling.
He also mentioned his strong income-generating business on the email side and that he took advantage of the fact that even in the pandemic, people were searching the web for car rentals, things to do in certain cities, and looking for inspiration for the ones. holidays.
SmarterTravel goes after a US Travel and Tourism Industry valued at $ 580.7 billion in 2019. Nor is it the only one that has caught the attention of investors recently. For example, in the last month, companies like Thatch raised $ 3 million for its platform aimed at travel creators, travel technology company Hopper raised $ 175 million, Wheel the World took $ 2 million by your disabled vacation planner and Elude raised $ 2.1 million to bring spontaneous travel back to a badly affected industry.
Meanwhile, the funding will further SmarterTravel’s goal of growing rapidly in terms of getting its name out there, creating new travel products, and hiring key staff. The company already has 50 people, but needs more, Staab said.
“Travel has had a difficult couple of years, but some sectors have returned, and we are seeing it,” he added. “In a year that should have been a bad year, our growth has been good. Revenue increased eight times in the last 12 months. We are growing, we are profitable and we have additional funds to support us in growth. It will not be easy growth, but we are well positioned to understand how to do it. “