4 reasons that made TravelPerk the new Spanish unicorn

How does a startup achieve unicorn status? It’s a question that’s been asked for a long time, but the answer has more to do with stocks than financial speculation.

On Wednesday January 12, TravelPerk, the Barcelona-based global travel management platform, announced that it had raised an additional €101.2 million in its Series D funding. This is after raising 131 .9 million euros in April 2021. With this latest round, TravelPerk achieved a valuation of $1.3 billion (or 1.14 billion euros) and became the latest member of Spain’s unicorn club.

Funding for TravelPerk was led by General Catalyst and Kinnevik. There will be two new board members: Gillian Tans, former CEO of Booking.com, who has been personally involved in this funding round; and Joel Cutler, an early investor in companies like Airbnb, Kayak and Stripe.

TravelPerk is the first Spanish unicorn (and the fourth in Barcelona’s startup ecosystem) to achieve this status in 2022. Looking at their recent decisions, it’s no wonder they’ve made quite the impression with customers and investors.

About a week ago, Novobrief mentioned Avi Meir, CEO and co-founder of TravelPerk, as a tech leader to watch in the Spanish ecosystem in 2022. In a press release from the startup announcing the latest funding, Meir said said that “the last two years have changed the travel industry forever, but one thing will always remain true: we have a human need to connect and meet”. He added that businesses will always have a need to travel, but now more than ever, in a flexible, practical and sustainable way.

We want to highlight 4 reasons why TravelPerk has joined the unicorn club: a mix of smart acquisitions, solid vision, Covid-era improvements and product development.

1. Smart acquisitions

After the first wave of the pandemic, TravelPerk had good reflexes, even if its sector was one of the most affected by the Covid. In July 2020, it announced its first acquisition: Albatross, a startup offering an API (Application Programming Interface) for structured information on travel restrictions and local guidelines for travel apps.

In January 2021, it is the turn of the American NexTravel: TravelPerk acquires its competitor and consolidates its presence in the global travel management sector. The acquisition brought together NexTravel’s customers, technology, employees, inventory and market expertise in the United States to support expansion in this market.

In July 2021, TravelPerk acquired UK business travel company Click Travel. This acquisition was completed shortly after the Series D funding round. This action consolidates its presence in the UK market.

Finally, in September 2021, TravelPerk acquired Susterra, a UK-based corporate responsibility consultancy. It was part of a plan to take sustainable business travel to the next level.

2. Solid Vision

In addition to adapting to the post-Covid world, TravelPerk has always taken the position that business travel will make a comeback at some point. Avi Meir has never doubted that the meetings that matter are in person. Although the prediction was always that the travel industry will not be the same as before the pandemic.

“There is no doubt that from 2021, the average business travel will be very different from what it was in 2019. We are confident that business travel will recover and thrive in the years to come. We also think people will need a platform like TravelPerk more than ever that has a full inventory, great “seven-star” customer service, delivers a great travel experience, and integrates with the broader tech stack,” Meir said in April. 2021.

Image credit: TravelPerk

3. Covid era improvements

Although at the start of the pandemic, bookings fell sharply, TravelPerk ended 2020 with 12% more contracts signed than in 2019. After the first shock, the startup quickly adapted to the post-Covid world by offering new services to its customers.

For example, it launched a VAT Recovery Solution to optimize business travel expenses. Additionally, he introduced the Executive Experience for companies to offer their traveling employees first-class hotels and special perks. Another improvement was the TravelPerk Trip Assistant app, to consolidate all flight, train, hotel and car rental information in one place. Finally, it has created an Open API Marketplace where users can create APIs themselves and access services such as TravelSafe, Expenses API and other enterprise procurement systems.

Generally speaking, TravelPerk has not hibernated like other players in the travel industry. Instead, they took the opportunity to double down on their growth strategy.

4. Product development

For TravelPerk, it was clear that business travel will now be different, meaning travelers with new needs. With this in mind, they have extended their FlexiPerk functionality across the EU, Switzerland, UK and USA.

They also launched TravelCare, a travel risk management solution that gives you all the information, visibility and support you need to ensure safe travels at all times.

Another new product was the TravelSafe API, a monthly subscription product that allows travel providers to integrate pandemic-related information about point-to-point restrictions between destinations during the booking process. This was possible thanks to their acquisition of Albatross.

There is also GreenPerk, a carbon-neutral business travel program. TravelPerk has partnered with carbon calculation and offset providers to allow their customers to offset their CO₂ emissions directly through its platform. Finally, they added TravelPerk Events, a tool that helps distributed teams meet face-to-face.

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