2022 has seen a marked rebound in the travel industry.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact funding the first
half of the year, investments in travel startups that Phocuswright
is tracking have reached $8.4 billion this year as of November 1. That already exceeds the $8.3
billion invested in 2019 but is behind the total from 2021 - $12.5 billion.
On Tuesday we will announce our
selection of the Hot 25 Travel Startups for 2023. In preparation for that, we checked
in with the companies that made the cut one year ago.
Many of the Hot 25 Startups for 2022
have had a banner year. As a cohort, they’ve raised $175.8 million. At least
three of them – Kambr, reTravel and Taptrip – have been acquired.
We asked last year’s winners the
- What have been a few highlights of
2022 for your company: product development, partnerships, funding, change in
- What are your priorities for 2023,
and how are you preparing for possible economic headwinds?
We heard from most of the 25. Here are
their answers, edited in some cases for brevity.
Highlights: This year has been super-exciting
as we have been growing at a rate of over 150% annualized. Product-wise, we
have added reporting and forecasting to better monitor performance. And we have
also created a more automated product for smaller properties, like vacation
rentals. This means we have a really universal solution and can work with many
partners. We are looking to complete a fundraising by the end of the year.
Priorities: For 2023, our main priority is further
growth. We are looking to grow another 150% next year. For us, the economic
headwinds work both ways. On one hand, hotels are looking to reduce costs. On
the other hand, optimizing your revenue is more important than ever. We were
able to double in size every year during the pandemic, and after coming through
that, we feel we are in a good position to grow through this as well.
Highlights: In 2022 we grew 350% year-on-year
in gross merchandises value (GMV) and revenue, and we will close the year with
around 800 customers. We started the year with 60 employees and now we have 120
employees. In product, we launched our credit card solution to eliminate
reimburse process and deployed more than 10 new features in our platform. Nowadays
we are talking with some strategic funds, and in the first quarter of 2023 we
will close our Series A.
Priorities: The B2B travel market is
still not very digitalized compared to B2C market in Latin America. Onfly
wants to be the leader to change this scenario. We want to continue growing
and acquiring new customers: Our plan is to grow 100% year-over-year in the next year
by improving our platform and launching new solutions for our customers.
For us, the worst moment is over: In the pandemic period, our revenue dropped
99.5%. We remain very optimistic about the sector.
Wheel The World
Highlights: Raised a pre-series A round of
funding, which will be announced in November. 15% growth MoM in bookings and
revenues. Added a new product to book: group tours. These are fixed itineraries
for eight to 12 people who go on a trip with other people with disabilities to
places such as Costa Rica, Chile, Morocco and South Africa. We have hired a CTO
with engineering management experience in tech companies to lead our tech
Priorities: Our main priority is to become a
community-based marketplace where our users not only find and book accessible
hotels and tours but also interact with other travelers with accessibility
needs, and help each other by recommending accessible travel offers and experiences.
Our travelers want to be part of a community that wants to travel without
limits. We have to facilitate that community.
Regarding an uncertain economic projection for
2023, we know that travel is a cyclical industry and not part of the basic
expenditure for families and individuals. This is why we have a resourcefulness
culture at WTW and focus on building a healthy business and economics.
Highlights: As we
headed out of the worst of the COVID-induced lockdowns and started traveling
again in 2022, a sense of optimism has returned to the industry. At Data
Duopoly we have undertaken a refocus of the business, exploring how we use
our technology to promote rejuvenation of high streets. We are launching
XplorTOWN in pilot places in the United Kingdom to encourage visitors and
residents to explore their town, connect businesses and customers and celebrate
local independent shops.
Priorities: We are
focusing on speaking to town business improvement districts (BIDs) and councils
to understand their pain points. We want to scale nationwide and implement our
API to drive positive social change in town centers. Our focus is growing
through the existing BID network and our place-led technology. We continue to
operate in a lean way, and react in an agile manner to continued user feedback.
Highlights: ReTravel.io was acquired in
2022 by Atriis, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) player with an open marketplace
for corporate travel offering a traveler and travel agent collaborative
platform. The acquisition allows reTravel.io to expand its
capabilities to the corporate travel space and is enabling the Atriis Corporate
platform with unique traveler retention and experience capabilities. We are
diversifying our products and our client segments.
Priorities: We look forward to adding
sustainability parameters to our policy-driven offers and launching with Atriis
a new corporate platform UI and UX, where we will bring post-booking AI
capabilities to the booking flow.
Our 2022 highlights include landing on the Inc 5000 list for the second year; scoring
an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars; and our recent Series B equity
financing round, with participation from Stormbreaker Ventures, JetBlue
Technology Ventures, Veritas Innovations and Motivate Venture Capital.
We will remain focused on our customers as we look toward 2023 and any possible
economic headwinds. With zero compromises on reliability and a focus on our
customers, Frontdesk will only continue to grow.
second priority is profitability. We pride
ourselves in being grounded in strong business fundamentals, which have allowed
us to grow our business through the pandemic and to this point. I am excited to
take that growth to the next level in 2023, where I see us expanding our
variety of locations and a few other surprises up our sleeves.
Highlights: In 2022, Cabana added two additional markets — San Francisco and Austin— to our roster, for a total of four major locations across
the U.S., including Seattle and Los Angeles. We also announced a new
partnership with Austin-based hospitality company New Waterloo. Cabana also
recently announced major enhancements to our complimentary trip-planning service: Now, Cabana guests can connect
with regional experts for personalized
itineraries, unique campsite recommendations and more.
Priorities: Cabana plans to continue
innovating and expanding into the new year, through additional partnerships,
new models and continued expansion.
With regard to the current economic climate, Cabana believes that the love for travel and desire for moments of serendipity
and wonder will not only prevail,
but become all the more important as individuals seek outlets
and opportunities to explore
with family and friends. As airline prices continue to rise, road-tripping remains a cost-effective way to get outside and see the world around you.
Highlights: We were chosen for
the second year in a row as the “World’s Best Wellness Travel Agency
2022” according to the World Spa Awards, and we continue to get recognition for
shining a spotlight on the wellness travel sector. Our growth in revenue and
partners (properties, packages and experiences) has been incredible, and our
online proprietary technology launches in Q4.
expect 2023 will be a major expansion year for Vacayou. We have used the last
year to build a strong foundation for our growth, and we’re tremendously
excited about what's to come. The trend toward experiential travel isn’t going
away and it continues to be the biggest emerging segment by far.
year, we have expanded our team and established a new operations structure that
will allow us to reach the next growth phases while keeping our core values and
scientific approach unchanged. One of our main goals for 2022 was to continue
the development of our platform and ensure we deliver data products that are
complex in nature but, at the same time, flexible, scalable and user-friendly
so that our end-users can enjoy their experience making their everyday
decisions with our data analytics insights. We had a fast expansion in all of
LATAM this year, settling in more than 15 countries and planning for new
physical offices in Mexico in addition to those in Brazil, Spain and
2023 we are looking forward to expanding our reach in Europe and the Middle
East and offering a global solution to our international clients. Our goal is
to double our annual revenue and number of recurrent clients by increasing our
presence in the countries where we already deliver, plus expanding to new
countries and verticals.
2021 was when we mapped out our clear customer profiles, and in 2022, we scaled
back a bit to strengthen our customer acquisition and partnerships.
Now with a stronger, more sustainable strategy for growth and expansion, we’ll
be onboarding even more partners in 2023 and reopen our fundraising
opportunities for the right investors. We will also be expanding our team. We’ll
be bracing for economic headwinds by continue nurturing our current
partnerships and community because we’re all facing this together.
In the last year alone, our best-in-class emissions calculations began powering
point-of-sale tools for industry giants such as CWT and Deem. In total, we are
currently powering sustainability
solutions for over $52 billion of annual travel spend. We’ve been quoted in the New York Times, as well as were nominated for BTN‘s Achievement in Environmental
You'll also see our existing products go from strength to strength. The Thrust
Calculator will continue to deliver fantastic enterprise-level reporting and analysis
based on the latest climate science, and Thrust Engage will continue to empower
departments - and even individual travelers - to take control of their carbon
footprints via personalized carbon budgets and green travel advice based on
global events will continue to cause challenges this year and next. But sustainability
and climate represent more pressing priorities than ever for our travel. And
that's where we come in. We work with the industry, travel managers, partners and
stakeholders to make setting and achieving net-zero goals as effortless and efficient
Highlights: We have mainly focused on two main
areas: personalization and automation. We have finalized our Light Kiosk
solution, which is now an integral part of MyStay. Kiosk can help guests check
in and issue keycards or spare cards. This year we have also started a couple
of self-service receptions with no human power. In personalization the focus is
on messages (both SMS and emails) and pre-stay and during-stay content
personalized to guest wishes and preferences.
Priorities: Our priority for 2023 is to be
available to accommodations that are tailoring the guest experience to
Highlights: We have tripled annualized
revenue, launched new partnerships with online travel agencies and travel
management companies, expanded our support for new ancillary products like
cabin bags and grown our team 50%. On top of this, we raised a $25 million
Series A in July from seasoned travel investors behind companies including
Hopper, Airbnb and TravelPerk.
Priorities: In 2023, we’ll be focused
on expanding our portfolio of products, launching new partnerships, deepening
the support we provide our current customers and continuing to grow our team.
Customer demand is strong, and like we saw during the pandemic, air travel
ancillary merchandising becomes even more important in challenging
environments. We’re fortunate to be able to help our customers and airlines
increase their yields.
NoiseAware is excited to announce the
addition of Kevin Locraft as CEO. Kevin joins from Vrbo/Expedia. Other
highlights include: launching our over-occupancy detection service, CrowdControl;
expanding our automated guest messaging integrations (with Breezeway,
Futurestay, Operto, Behome247 and Autohost); adding new data analysis and
reporting features for our customers; and surpassing the five million stays
Priorities: We are prioritizing the launch of our expanded nuisance prevention
platform across multiple hospitality verticals. Additionally, NoiseAware will
continue our avid support of STR operators who support industry-sustainable,
fair and effective legislation, locally, nationally and globally.
closed the Series A round in early January. We
received funding from two VCs and a strategic in automotive. As Russian-born
founders based in the United Kingdom, we found ourselves in a new world in
February. Even loose links to Russia became toxic, hitting us even today –
hello, Barclays UK Business Banking, and goodbye. So, we haven’t announced the
round, but we did put it to good use, and Refugee.Travel was among our first investments. 2022 has
been a transformative experience as we’ve transitioned from a founders-led
startup to a team of 30 people across the globe.
Priorities: We are building
a new format of interactive content for explorers, journeying the world by
road, and we welcome partnerships. Today, we pilot revenue sharing with key
partners, and developing a DIY affiliate platform for creators, distributors,
innovators to be launched in 2023.
enough, economic headwinds are quite friendly for the road trips market; despite
chip shortage in automotive, global inflation and skyrocketing fuel prices,
affecting cost of travel, customers still prefer a personal vehicle.
Highlights: Miles has experienced an exciting year full of growth,
game-changing product features and newly unlocked revenue streams. Some highlights
include: the launch of a new Gift Card feature that gives Miles users the
ability to bid on gift cards with their miles in lieu of purchasing them
instantly for full price; continued growth of the Miles community; and new
Priorities: As we head into the new year, especially with current
market conditions, Miles is staying laser-focused on providing an
ever-improving experience to our users. Just as we did in the face of the pandemic,
Miles will adapt and come out of the economic headwinds stronger than ever.
We released our self-service hosting
platform to the public early this year, enabling creators to take full control
of the trip-planning and hosting experience. We also closed our $15 million
Series A financing led by Madrona with participation from existing investors,
PSL Ventures, Oregon Venture Fund, Elevate Capital and Portland Seed Fund.
Priorities: We will continue to invest
in the platform and our team as we elevate the experience for our hosts and
travelers. We’ve been able to support creators in many categories like hiking
& outdoors, food & beverage, LGBTQ+ and body positivity, and will
continue to expand our offering to enable more creators to host trips with
We will work to continue lowering our costs. While we are well-diversified from
a destination perspective, we will enhance our shorter-haul and budget
inventory to ensure we have affordable options for all.
Highlights: Key highlights of 2022 include being acquired by Amadeus earlier this year and the signing of leading low-cost carrier Viva Aerobus, as well as several other exciting projects.
We pride ourselves on our agile and efficient approach which we forged during
the early days of our company as COVID changed the entire landscape of not just
our industry and how we work, but the entire world. We’ll carry over
those lessons into 2023 to remain laser-focused on our priorities, this time
with the support of our parent company Amadeus.
Highlights: Earlier this year, we launched the world’s first NFT-based travel loyalty program. We also recently improved the pricing of our flights by securing access to direct airline content via the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard, which takes us a step closer to one of our key goals: decentralization. Lastly, we were accepted into several key accelerator programs. All of this momentum has led to record booking and revenue figures for Travala.
Priorities: In 2023, we will expand our product offerings and NFT-based loyalty program; integrate the Travala.com miniapp with more crypto exchanges and wallets; and introduce more non-crypto travelers to Travala.com’s crypto travel perks, which can be earned even when booking with traditional currencies.