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- Travel marketplaces you should know. World-known VC firm a16z has just launched the 2023 Marketplace 100, which ranks the largest consumer-facing marketplace startups and private companies based on their annual gross merchandise volume. This year’s list features nearly three dozen newcomers, including marketplaces for refurbished electronics, precious metals, and sustainably raised meat. Interestingly, 13 of the 100 marketplaces ranked are related to travel, which reflects the industry’s ongoing recovery and the pent-up demand for leisure travel. While there is a strong focus on US-based companies, the list also features some marketplaces from other parts of the world. The Marketplace 100 highlights rising marketplaces that will define the category in the coming years.
- Open platform gets the spotlight. San Francisco-based fintech Brex has launched a new travel booking service on its Empower platform. Developed in partnership with Spotnana, the cloud-based platform offers an all-in-one travel and expense solution in addition to Brex’s existing corporate card and expense capabilities. The service includes access to a range of unbiased inventory, such as global distribution systems and low-cost carriers, with the ability to book and change travel, receive agent support, and budget spending. Brex aims to transition its corporate banking customers to become travel customers and claims to offer better visibility of travel costs and policy management than traditional agencies.
- Influencing travel marketing everywhere. Travel platform Steller has acquired Travel Mindset, an influencer marketing company focused on the travel sector. Influencer marketing is expected to be a $21.1 billion industry this year, and as many as 84% of US adults use influencers as resources for travel recommendations. Travel Mindset connects influencers and brands in the travel space and offers services ranging from editorial, video and social media to event and campaign management. The acquisition will help Steller deepen its value to brand and travel partners, content creators, and travelers.
- Automating check-ins and check-outs. Canadian startup Operto Guest Technologies has raised $25 million in a Series B round. Operto provides automation tools for hotels and rentals to create a seamless, automated check-in and check-out experience for guests. The funding will be used to accelerate the company’s expansion and enhance guest experiences and operational efficiencies for property owners and hosts. Operto recently acquired STAYMyway to roll out digital key partnerships, and HotelTonight founder Sam Shank has joined its board of directors.
- Funding boost for airline distribution tech. Singapore-based company Mystifly has raised $8 million in pre-Series B funding. The airline distribution technology company offers a platform for airlines and travel intermediaries that facilitates access to airfares, distribution, payment reconciliation and settlement. The latest funding will go towards developing Mystifly’s data and technology capabilities and hiring in data and engineering. Mystifly’s Azygos platform, a multi-source airline retailing solution, has recently been enhanced to combine global distribution systems bookings with new distribution capability bookings.
- Mixing spaces together. Placemakr, a flexible-use multifamily and hospitality operator, has raised $65 million in new funding, bringing its total capital raised to over $350 million. Placemakr will use the funding to expand its property acquisitions and partnerships throughout the US to meet the consumer demand for apartment-style hotels, short-term rentals, and flexible-living accommodations. Placemakr’s tech-enabled platform allows multifamily developers and owners to transform existing properties into commingled spaces, effectively combining multifamily and hospitality uses in one building.