Travel and tourism are coming back online in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions. Today, a startup tackling one part of the equation for getting from a starting location to one’s destination is announcing some funding to capitalise on that.
Bookaway, which has built a platform for people to view options for and book their ground transportation – journeys from a long-haul arrival point to a hotel or other final destination, with some 7,000 providers listed in all currently – has raised $35 million.
The Israeli startup launched its Series C round of funding at $81 million. Its investors include Menorah, which is an insurance company based in Tel Aviv; Tenere Capital, which is based in New York; Corner Ventures, which is based in Israel; and Entrée Capital, which is based in the US. The startup is not disclosing its valuation.
Travel companies are feeling price pressure due to the slowdown of the last few years, increased fuel prices, and increased competition from companies such as Airbnb and Booking, airline groups, and hotel chains as they try to improve their margins by building more services into their offerings.
CEO and founder, Noam Toister, is confident there is still a huge opportunity left in ground transportation because it is so offline and fragmented – especially when it comes to travelling to remote or exotic locations.
Bookaway.com started out to offer ground transportation booking services, but when the bookings collapsed due to COVID-19, it was able to raise money to buy up other similar businesses to help shore up until things turn around.
12Go and GetByBus acquisitions followed to expand into Asia Pacific, and then Plataforma 10 in Argentina followed.
“Our group was born during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a shared belief that the ground transport industry will better meet the needs of travellers when it is united, not fragmented,” Toister said.
Bookaway is combining together thousands of businesses — mostly independent and very local — on a platform travellers can use to book their journeys ahead of time, with providers including buses, ferries, trains, private transportation options, and more.
Digitising that experience alone is a huge undertaking, and there are 10,000 global businesses, collectively worth $157 billion annually according to founder, Toister.
“If you are travelling in the world you book flights and hotels, but most destinations still don’t have an airport,” he said, meaning that it’s often a long journey between the airport and the accommodation, and you’ll have to plan ahead for that.