TravelTech Startups: Latest News Investments

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This week we head directly to our curation of the top news on travel innovation, trends and startups:

  • Aero’s premium airline secures $50 million. It seems that luxury air travel is picking up pace. Not only have we seen airlines stepping up the levels of luxury available, enhanced sitting and sleeping provisions, but also the rise of premium air travel. Aero Technologies, a premium private jet operator has raised $50 million in Series B funding to expand. Offering flights in the US and Europe on a custom 16 seat aircraft, Aero has made itself known in key hubs like Ibiza, Mykonos and Los Cabos – talking about luxury. Now, the aim is to fly to even more destinations and bring premium travel to a growing global market.
  • Hyper-personalised experiences don’t have to mean the end of privacy. AI platform Qloo is bringing experience operators the ability to better predict and understand consumer tastes and preferences – and they are doing it with a privacy-centric approach. The company has just raised $15 million as the demand for personalisation in travel and entertainment soars. Qloo currently delivers cultural AI that powers inferences for clients serving over 550 million customers globally in 2022. It works by correlating and processing data across entertainment, culture, and consumer products, giving the most accurate and expansive predictions of consumer taste based on demographics, preferences, cultural entities, metadata, and geolocational factors.
  • Scan, Split, Tip, Pay – A new way to dine out. We’ve all been there. You go out for dinner with a group of friends and when it comes to ordering and paying, things get a little complicated. From deciding what to order, getting the waiter’s attention to order, to then deciding how to split the bill and leave a tip – when there’s a group involved the waiting and mental maths is growing old. Based in Dubai, Spades is an app changing the game. It allows users to scan the menu of a restaurant, directly order via the app, before then splitting and tipping. Currently, it’s operating with 250 restaurants in UAE and has launched in Saudi Arabia with MJS Holding, a chain with 20+ restaurants. Along with expanding to Singapore and South-east Asia, It is looking to raise a bigger round of $8-$10 million.
  • Using tech to power human connection, SiteMinder acquires GuestJoy. As the hotel industry moves towards using tech to enhance communications and add a personal touch to guest experiences, SiteMinder has just acquired hotel guest engagement suite GuestJoy. Earlier this year, SiteMinder is a next-gen platform that has massively enhanced how accommodation providers grow their presence online. Now, with this deal, SiteMinder will be able to empower hoteliers to automate and digitise their guest communication. Doing so makes for happier guests, and happier revenue streams for those in the industry. The deal is expected to be closed by the end of this year and reflects a new era of hotel commerce – that is digital and ultra personal.
  • Get the group together: travelling a trip just got easier. Putting a group trip together is one of life’s little challenges, and for those that are able to make it past the whatsapp group chat stage: Congratulations. Now, though, it’s being made a lot simpler thanks to tech innovation. Reposite, a group travel planning startup has just raised $7.5 million to develop its online workspace that enables group trip planners to pull together all the processes involved in putting a group trip together in one place. Currently available in the US, the team now wants to develop a data-driven matching platform to make recommendations to trip planners and match them with suppliers more efficiently.
  • Hotel app Shackle picks up $5.5 million. Aiming to digitise the hotel guest experience and bring hoteliers more insights into their customers, Shackle has just secured $5.5 million to grow. The European app lets guests check in, enter their room, order room service and make payments all from the app. So, next time you check in at the airport you don’t have to worry about faffing around at reception – just a few clicks and you’ll have a comfy hotel bed with champagne on the way (if that’s your vibe of course). Connecting hotel services directly to guests is good news for the hotel as well. It promotes more streamlined hotel operations and gives back data on guest behaviour and needs all in one system. Talk about a win-win.
  • PriceLabs snaps up Rental Scale-Up as demand for industry content grows. You don’t have to convince us that the travel and hospitality industry is full of exciting news, innovation and thought leadership, and startup PriceLabs clearly know it as well. The dynamic pricing fintech has acquired Rental Scale-Up, a media company that produces news and analysis on the short-term rental industry. It’s a space that has seen a lot of activity in recent times with the growth of staycations and the resurgence of the digital nomad – it’s meant that financial solutions for this sector are equally soaring in demand. With this acquisition, PriceLabs wants to enhance the content available for their customers, giving them more in-depth insights and analysis and continue to shape the sector for years to come.
  • The financial world is banking on travel. This year the travel space has been busy – to put it lightly. And with that, there have been a lot of financial developments. One trend we’ve spotted has been that lots of fintech providers and banks are starting to buy into travel, offering travel cards, BNPL options and so forth. The latest development is that Citi is now launching a travel booking platform in partnership with traveltech heavyweight, Booking Holdings’ brands and Rocket Travel. It’ll launch this autumn and replace the existing City Thank You Travel Center. Via the platform, users will be able to compare hotels, flights and car rental options and can then bool and pay with their Citi card or loyalty points (or go wild and combine them).