India Hotel Network Treebo Raises $34 Million: Travel Startup Funding This Week

Treebo Hotels

Treebo Hotels co-founders (left-to-right) Rahul Chaudhary, Sidharth Gupta, and Kadam Jeet-Jain created the freshly funded hotel network back in 2015. Treebo Hotels

Skift Take: Travel startups raised more than $72 million this week. The most promising of these is Treebo, which is banking on branded hotel networks as a niche in India.

— Sean O’Neill

Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. The total raised this week was more than $72 million.

>>Treebo Hotels, a branded budget-hotel company, has raised $34 million in a Series C funding round, led by Hong Kong-based investment firms Ward Ferry Management and Karst Peak Capital.

The round brings its total fundraising to $57 million. Also participating in the round are past investors SAIF Partners, Matrix Partners India, and Bertelsmann India Investments.

Bangalore-based Treebo Hotels is a budget hotel aggregator, with about 300 participating hotels operating in more than 50 cities. It is not a chain with franchisees in the sense a Marriott has. It instead is a booking site that asks hotels to meet certain minimum standards of amenities, such as branded toiletries and free Wi-Fi, in exchange for leads.

Treebo does not get the same media attention as Oyo Rooms, another hotel aggregator, which has received more funding — though the true amounts injected are disputed by some critics. OYO claims to have 70,000 rooms in 6,500 hotels available as listings in 200 cities, but some of its claims have been contradictory and implausible.

Last month, FabHotels, a budget hotel brand based in Gurgaon, India, which has more than 225 hotels in two dozen Indian cities, raised $25 million in a Series B investment round led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners. The startup has raised $35 million to date.

Earlier this year another competitor, Zo Rooms, unwound.

>>TravelBank, a San Francisco-based vendor of a travel expense and rewards app for business, raised $25 million in a Series B funding. DCM Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Propel Venture Partners, DanHua Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Accel Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank. The startup has raised $35 million to date.

CEO Duke Chung co-founded the company with Ching Ho Fung and Reid Williams. In autumn 2016, they launched their expense-management product for small businesses. Today they say the company has thousands of users who work at 800 U.S. companies like Doordash, Stride Health, and WeddingWire.

Chung told Skift that while tech companies like Expensify and Concur have helped businesses improve expense tracking productivity and compliance, there was a gap in the market for incentivizing traveler behavior to be compliant. TravelBank encourages travelers to stay under budget by offering rewards for picking cheaper flights or hotels. It also offers managers a predictive budgeting tool.

While many expense management vendors charge subscriptions, TravelBank instead relies on generating revenue through commissions from suppliers.

TravelBank faces competition from other companies whose services partly overlap with its own, such as GetThere, NexTravel, RocketTrip, 30SecondsToFly, TripActions, and Upside. But the $25 million in funding will help with marketing.

>>Homelike, a Cologne, Germany-based startup that offers booking at 30,000 furnished, extended-stay apartments in Western European cities for business travelers, raised $4.8 million, or €4 million, in Series A funding. Cherry Ventures led the round and was joined by existing investor Coparion.

Founded in 2014, the 45-employee company claims to have 10,000 corporate customers, including Siemens and Adesso, which have booked 400,000 room nights at the apartments. They are only run by professional landlords at higher-end properties in central city locations — and not by amateur hosts.

>>HotelChamp, an Amsterdam-based provider of a marketing and sales platform to hotels, has raised $4.7 million, or €4 million, in seed funding. Angel investors include Nalden, founder of WeTransfer and Phillippe de Knijff and Jolanda Degen of WorldTicketCenter.

The 50-employee company launched its platform last summer. HotelChamp helps properties increase their direct bookings. It has signed more than 1,000 major hotels in more than 40 countries. Clients include Meininger Hotel Group, Palazzo Versace, and Apex Hotels.

>>ShoCard, a Cupertino, California-based blockchain-based seller of an identity management system, raised $4 million Series A round of funding. AME Cloud Ventures and Morado Venture Partners jointly led the round.

While not strictly focused on travel, ShoCard aims to replace the use of passwords and usernames with mobile-based encryption derived from things like scans of people’s faces. The company taps blockchain technology to handle who has permission to see the data records.

ShoCard is not exclusively focused on travel applications. But SITA, the IT non-profit run by airlines and airports, has worked with ShoCard on prototyping how blockchain could help with border management and airport security.

Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.

Ryan Wolkov

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Expedia’s Loss Is Uber’s Gain — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report

@amir  / Twitter

New Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi poses with the Uber leadership team. The move could have big implications for Uber’s push into corporate travel. @amir / Twitter

Skift Take: Will Uber, under Khosrowshahi, continue to push even deeper into corporate travel as he attempts to turn the company around? Seems likely.

— Andrew Sheivachman

The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter focused on the future of corporate travel, the big fault lines of disruption for travel managers and buyers, the innovations emerging from the sector, and the changing business traveler habits that are upending how corporate travel is packaged, bought, and sold.

As August comes to a close and the summer fades away, news across the travel industry continues to break at a rapid pace.

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has moved to Uber, Hurricane Harvey has devastated Texas, and Hyatt has purchased yet another wellness brand.

Under Khosrowshahi, Expedia’s Egencia corporate travel division has grown into one of the biggest travel management companies in the world with ambitious growth plans still ahead. Uber itself is in the midst of a renewed focus on providing enhanced tools to corporations and business travelers. The new CEO’s wide knowledge of the travel industry should help the ride-sharing company with its turnaround, including the corporate travel push.

Read below for everything you need to know to supercharge your knowledge going into September.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Senior Writer 

Business of Buying

Are Hotel-Fee Initiatives Inspired by What Airlines Have Accomplished? In some ways, perhaps … but one big difference between hotels and airlines is that hotels want their consumers to actually like (maybe even love) them. While with airlines, that might be a different story as some recent events would demonstrate (we’re looking at you, United). Read more at Skift

American Considers Selling Few-Frills Economy Fares to Europe: Don’t hate American Airlines if it unbundles fares on some transatlantic routes. By flying discounters like Wow Air and Norwegian, travelers have shown how much they like cheap no-frills airlines. American needs to give the people what they want — $99 one-way fares to Barcelona. Read more at Skift

Air Berlin Requires a Quick Deal, German Government Official Says: Let the games begin: Lufthansa, Ryanair, easyJet and a German investor are said to be interested in scavenging for pieces of the beleaguered Air Berlin. The German government is getting lots of grief for making a bridge loan but that was a prudent thing to do in the pubic interest. Read more at Skift

Chinese Airlines Are Shifting Focus to Domestic Routes to Follow Passenger Demand: China’s state airlines were eager to flex their muscles overseas during the past few years but perhaps those route expansions were too aggressive or premature as most travel in China is still domestic. Read more at Skift

Safety + Security

Air China Says More Chinese Travelers Are Being Denied U.S. Visas: There’s no public data here, so it’s hard to know how much of an issue this is. But generally, inbound tourism to the United States is important, so if fewer visas are being granted, it’s probably not good for American businesses. Read more at Skift

Houston Hotels Bear Brunt of Hurricane Harvey and Already Weak Oil Markets: Unfortunately for Houston, a natural disaster like Harvey will likely only make things even tougher for its already struggling hotel market. Read more at Skift

Disruption + Innovation

Expedia’s New CEO Is Mark Okerstrom: There is only one vote that mattered in Expedia’s abbreviated CEO search — Barry Diller’s. And he wholeheartedly wanted Okerstrom for the job. No need to mess around with an interim title or to conduct the dog and pony show of a CEO search. It was a done deal. Now Okerstrom has to step up to the challenge. Read more at Skift

Expedia’s New CEO on What He’d Like to Change: A lot of CEOs say they will maintain the policies of their predecessors. But when huge challenges surface, it will be up to Okerstrom to be his own guy, and chart a new course when necessary. Read more at Skift

New Choice Hotels CEO Is Ready to Dominate His Sectors: It’ll be interesting to see how Pat Pacious’ understanding of digital technology and online distribution will inform Choice’s future business strategy. Read more at Skift

6 Blockchain Takeaways From Tour Operator TUI’s Hotel Initiative: TUI’s chief executive is nailing his colors to the mast when it comes to blockchain and its benefits for the travel industry. In theory the technology is great — and TUI has already identified an effective way to use it — but will the hype be justified? Read more at Skift

Hyatt Buys Yet Another Wellness Brand, Exhale: Hyatt is taking the concepts of wellness and “adjacent spaces” very, very seriously. Read more at Skift

8 Insights Into Uber CEO Pick Dara Khosrowshahi From Peers and Rivals:  With a two-decade track record in online travel, Khosrowshahi has had his duck-and-cover as well as been-on-a-mountaintop moments. If Uber’s looking for a steady hand, and a guy with experience who isn’t afraid to take a U-turn when called for, then they could have done a helluva lot worse. Read more at Skift


Skift editors Hannah Sampson [] and Andrew Sheivachman [] curate the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

Subscribe to Skift’s Free Corporate Travel Innovation Report

Ryan Wolkov

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Tech Adoption for Event Organizers Is Spotty

Jeff Chiu  / Associated Press

An employee helps direct people as they register for a Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Technology at events often proves challenging for organizers. Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Skift Take: Increasing competition in the event sector has attracted more technology companies to provide solutions for current bottlenecks.

— Dave Montali

Last week we launched the latest report in our Skift Research service, The State of Conferences and Events 2017.

Below is an excerpt from our Skift Research Report. Get the full report here to stay ahead of this trend.
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A recent survey of event marketers by event management company etouches suggested that event tech is often a key pain point for organizers, with many choosing to skip the use of such tech tools altogether or minimize its role. Among the pain points identified by etouches for the pre-event phase, nearly 60 percent of respondents across all geographic locations cited targeting the right people with the right event content as a common struggle.

Attendee registration was another challenge for more than half of respondents, and managing logistics, such as orders, room setup, AV needs, and the like was another obstacle for 43 percent. On-site challenges are varied and impact event planners across the board. A big challenge for 44 percent of respondents was communication with event attendees. Additionally, 42 percent of event planners cited the registration and check-in process as well as technology overall as pain points.

Interestingly, etouches’ survey revealed that while event planners are using technology in some aspects of the event lifecycle, they haven’t embraced these tools across the board. For example, only 20 percent of respondents said they used a venue sourcing tool and just seven percent use a Strategic Meeting Management (SMM) program. And despite declaring on-site communication as a major pain point, just 47 percent of respondents used a mobile app to communicate with attendees during events.

Source: etouches, The Event Checkup.
The biggest post-event pain point cited by respondents of the etouches survey is event measurement. The good news is the majority of respondents (65 percent) indicated they are already measuring event ROI.

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Meanwhile for conference and event suppliers like hotels, event technology is helping to more easily sort through the growing volume of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) received from event organizers. For example, Cvent’s new Group Business Intelligence tool is designed to provide real-time data and analytics of hotels’ group business leads (and those of their competitors) in a single platform, helping hotel sales staff prioritize incoming queries and score leads. The tool also makes it easier for hoteliers to examine leads by specific time periods, customer segments, competitor rates, response times, and peak night volume, helping calculate the potential value of each piece of group business with much more context and business insight than before.

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This is the latest in a series of research reports, analyst calls, and data sheets aimed at analyzing the fault lines of disruption in travel. These reports are intended for the busy travel industry decision maker. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 200 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

After you subscribe, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports, analyst calls, and data sheets conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep-dives on key travel brands. Reports are available online in a responsive design format, or you can also buy each report a la carte at a higher price.

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