For many in the travel sector, 2022 began with a sense of optimism. Having been grounded for two years, travellers the world over began rebooking at a rapid pace, keen to make the most of open borders. This incredible demand for travel services has pushed travel tech further into the spotlight in the first half of 2022.
Here's a snapshot of the travel tech news highlights for H1.
Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, continued Covid impacts and global inflation concerns, travel tech stocks remained relatively stable compared to the broader market. TNMT reports that travel investors have shown faith in the sector, with many smaller stocks weathering the poor market conditions well.
Czech start-up kiwi.com reported a private investment of €100m in June 2022, one of the largest of its size in a Czech start-up. The online travel agent (OTA), which focuses on low-cost travel, says the capital will support continued growth as kiwi.com bolsters its position in the global travel industry.
Capital secured from some of the world’s leading tech and growth investors, including Lazard Asset Management, Stack Capital Group, NEA, Temasek, and funds managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management, bolstered Omio’s position by US$80m in FH2022. Omio CEO and founder, Naren Shaam, says the funds will allow the business to pursue its vision of a globally unified transportation network on a single digital platform.
Optibus has become the first unicorn dedicated to the public transportation sector, after closing USD$100m in Series D funding. Optibus provides an end-to-end software platform for public transportation planning and operations. The latest round of financing brings Optibus’ total funding to $260m and its valuation to $1.3bn.
Aviation investment firm, 777 Partners, recently acquired two travel technology companies – AeroCRS and WorldTicket – with a view to “democratize aviation”. The two companies join a growing portfolio of airlines and travel tech firms, including Air Black Box, Bonza, Flair Airlines, and the Value Alliance supported by the firm, which has committed USD$100m to “delivering disruptive travel technology solutions that create new commerce channels and improve next-generation retailing, distribution, interlining, and passenger connectivity”.
Looking to the future, Holisto, which uses artificial intelligence to allow travel agents and providers to plan trips across multiple inventory sources, announced it is planning a public listing through a business combination with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Moringa Acquisition Corp.
According to a statement, the business combination values Holisto at $405m with the deal expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022. Eran Shust, CEO and co-Founder of Holisto, said:
“Our combination with Moringa and access to public markets will allow Holisto to continue to aggressively leverage our technology by scaling our platform and infrastructure and expand our customer acquisition and brand awareness.”
Eran Shust, CEO and co-Founder
Southeast Asia’s biggest online travel startup, Traveloka, is rumored to be in talks for another round of funding of more than $200m. The online travel unicorn has so far raised a total of $1.2bn in funding across six rounds, the latest being the $250m led by Qatar Investment Authority in July 2020. Traveloka planned to go public through a special acquisition company last year, but pulled out of the arrangement amid speculation it was aiming for an IPO in the US later this year.
Mergers and acquisitions
In January, Clear, a private biometric screening company that lets paying members bypass certain security lines at busy areas including stadiums and airports, announced it had acquired Whyline, whose remote queueing technology is employed across a number of partners including Newark, LA World and Charleston International airports. Clear says it will leverage Whyline’s technology and platform to “bring innovation into routine but time-consuming activities, giving people more control of their day-to-day experiences.”
Hospitality management platform, Cloudbeds, has made its third acquisition in six months, acquiring LA-based Whistle. Earlier this year, Cloudbeds acquired AdsHotel from Italy-based D-Business and Odysys, an Oregon-based hospitality marketing platform. Cloudbeds says it has nearly tripled in size over the last year and will roll out more solutions in the third quarter of 2022.
Sabre Corporation announced its acquisition of Nuvola, a prominent provider of hotel service optimization and guest engagement software to hoteliers worldwide. The transaction includes Nuvola technology and guest enablement software, as well as the integration of Nuvola employees to Sabre. Sabre expects the acquisition to advance its retailing, merchandising and fulfilment capabilities.
Two of Europe’s tech platforms – Orchestra, the leading platform on the French market, and Traffics, the leading independent travel SaaS platform in Germany – confirmed they were joining forces to form a market leader on the Continent. Christian Sabbagh, founder and chairman of Orchestra, said: "The combination of the two creates a player with critical mass that will benefit from the accelerated technological transformation underway in a tourism sector that is experiencing a strong upturn momentum.”