TripActions | October 14, 2021
In less than a year, TripActions has secured a second massive funding round – this time $275 million in Series F growth funding.
The round was led by Greenoaks Capital with participation from prior investors Elad Gil, Base Partners and all key existing financial investors and values TripActions at $7.25 billion on a post-money basis.
The funding comes less than nine months after TripActions' Series E round of $155 million in January. The travel management company's total funding to date is nearly $1.3 billion.
Is an IPO coming soon for the six-year-old company? Michael Sindicich, general manager of TripActions Liquid, the company’s payment and expense management solution, says while an IPO would be a “natural fundraising opportunity and another milestone in our growth,” it is not planned for the near future.
“We’ve got quite a lot of cash. We’re making great revenue. We are not in any rush to take the company public at this time,” Sindicich says. The vote of confidence from investors, he says, confirms TripActions’ belief that travel and expense management is “ripe for a tech makeover.”
Despite the global impact of COVID-19 on travel, TripActions says it has now exceeded pre-pandemic levels in terms of bookings and revenue and has more than doubled its aggregate travel budget under management from February 2020 through the end of July this year.
The gains are due in part to a focus on acquiring new enterprise customers, targeted with the launch of TripActions Enterprise Edition in September 2020. Clients include Heineken, Crate & Barrel, Snowflake, Thomson Reuters and Adobe.
“We were there for these customers, they were switching from legacy travel agencies and booking tools, legacy expense platforms, because we were innovating, we were supporting, we were adapting to the way the new world would operate moving forward and that gave them a lot of confidence to actually make a change.”
Michael Sindicich, general manager of TripActions
Also adding fuel to TripActions' growth in the last 18 months: the launch of Liquid in February 2020, first as a payment solution and then in October 2020 adding expense management tools.
Sindicich says transaction volume is similar for Liquid as for core travel, and more than 90% of the new companies TripActions is bringing onboard use its full suite of solutions for corporate travel, expense, spend and payment management.
“Seventy-percent of expenses happen while employees are on trips,” he says.
“So we’re learning about the power of the end-to-end solution. We built Liquid as a separate team in the beginning... and are now seeing that both platforms together, it’s a one-plus-one-equals-three type of situation.”
Along with continuing to develop these products, TripActions will accelerate development of Lemonade, its personal travel booking solution that launched in October 2020. Lemonade gives employees at TripActions’ client companies’ access to negotiated rates and exclusive deals, notifications about COVID requirements and around-the-clock support for their leisure trips.
The company is also continuing to develop TripActions Team Travel, a self-serve solution that launched in June to facilitate gatherings of distributed employees. Earlier this month it added support for meetings and events to Team Travel, leveraging the capabilities it gained with its acquisition of Reed & Mackay in May.
TripActions will also add staff globally, expand its efforts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa – Europe now represents 30% of TripActions’ business - and, says Sindicich, continue to look for merger and acquisition opportunities.
“We’re always looking for companies that would make sense to acquire and work with and add to the portfolio so this could be another deployment of this capital as well,” he says.
“There’s not a prospect we are announcing or have in mind right now, but it would be natural for us to also look at other opportunities as well since we see Reed & Mackay is working so well for us.”
Features and Advice
Cvent, American Express Global Business Travel | September 06, 2021
In an effort to gather and standardize data related to corporate social responsibility efforts at hotels, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and Cvent have created new questions for suppliers to answer as a supplement to the Global Business Travel Association’s request for proposals template.
The joint initiative includes 47 questions focused on sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion that are intended to help travel managers evaluate suppliers on these issues. To develop the questions, GBT’s Global Business Consulting team (GBC) and Cvent interviewed corporations, global hotel brands, travel management companies and consultancies.
The companies say along with helping travel managers evaluate hotels, the questions benefit hotels by reducing the time needed to respond to individual requests for information on these topics.
“As we accelerate the return to travel and events, customer requests for supplier data on corporate responsibility issues are soaring,” says Nina Marcello, a principal within GBC who first proposed the initiative.
“Together, GBC and Cvent worked with stakeholders across corporate and meetings travel to deliver a solution that will increase the availability of relevant sustainability and DE&I data. This initiative reflects our own environmental, social and governance commitments and enables suppliers and travel managers around the world to further their corporate responsibility goals.
” Hotel suppliers answer the supplemental questions, related to things such as carbon emissions and leadership demographics, within the Cvent Transient solution. Hotel chains can also work with their properties to collect and import the information to their profiles.
“The speed at which we developed these questions reflects the significance of this work, and they are already being used by our hotel clients. This initiative benefits the entire corporate travel supply chain by facilitating the sharing and reporting of important topics that impact every organization,” says Brian Sullivan, senior director of product management at Cvent.
Huawei | August 26, 2021
As part of its move away from hardware, Huawei is scaling up its cloud services and startup support in Asia Pacific and, while travel and hospitality is not top of mind yet, its move into this vertical seems inevitable with the expansion of its headquarters in Singapore and a recent first move in the Middle East.
Huawei, facing pressure in Western markets and a slowdown in consumer business amid U.S. sanctions, has been steadily moving its focus away from manufacturing to become a tech and software company that believes “deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems the world is facing right now.
"We will keep on innovating to help build a low-carbon, intelligent world,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the release of business results for the first half earlier this month.
In the Middle East, travel marketplace Wego is the first travel player to sign a partnership with Huawei’s Petal Search to integrate the travel app into Huawei smartphones.
“The world of travel and hospitality has entered a new era of m-commerce, as more than 60% of travellers rely entirely on smartphone applications when making their travel plans. Pre-installing the Wego app into smartphones is part of our continuous efforts to enable these travellers to get the best deals and options when shopping for their holiday,” says Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India.
From May, all Huawei smartphones EMUI 5 and above bundled with the Wego app will be made available across stores in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan.
“Over the last few years, we have been noticing a significant rise in the number of Wego users on Huawei devices. Interestingly, it has also been noted that Huawei smartphone users tend to spend more on travel than the average Android user,” says Hmedan.
In the startup space, Huawei announced its plan to invest $100 million in the ecosystem, with the funds going towards its Spark Program in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years.
Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are the priority markets and at the Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit in July, it announced the programme would develop four additional startup hubs – Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
The overarching aim is to recruit a total of 1,000 startups into the Spark accelerator program and shaping 100 of them into scaleups.
Speaking at the Summit, Huawei senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen said 34 years ago, Huawei was a startup with just $5,000 of registered capital.
“Recently, we have been thinking: How can we leverage our experience and resources to help more startups address their challenges? Doing so would allow them to seize the opportunities posed by digital transformation, achieve business success, and develop more innovative products and solutions for the world.”
Alexis Lee, Spark program manager at Huawei Cloud and AI Asia Pacific, who joined the team in January, told WebInTravel that 40 startups came through in the first cohort and about eight to 10 were identified to enter the “Spark Fire” programme, an accelerator.
Zhang Ping’an, senior vice president of Huawei, CEO of Huawei Cloud BU, and president of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, announced at the Summit that “we have already helped four of these startups launch new products and completely transform their businesses, while helping eight enter new markets”.
It is currently in the midst of selecting the second cohort – entries closed last week.
Lee, who previously worked in the investor space and was at Grab for two years, said how Huawei differentiated from other accelerators in Singapore is in its business development strength. “We introduce startups to clients, obviously in China, as well as global. China is obviously the most attractive market for scale up.”
It does not take equity, rather it invests in kind, offering cloud infrastructure support in credits as well as a strong mentoring and investor network. “The programme is about building up the startup community, and sharing our resources. We have the tech know-how and the client network to help startups scale.”
Areas of interest include anything to do with AI, ML or 5G and industry verticals include fintech, logistics, smart cities, ad tech and insurance tech.
Huawei says its global HMS ecosystem is the world’s third largest mobile app ecosystem, serving 4.5 million developers in over 170 countries and regions. The goal is to cultivate over 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers in Asia Pacific over three years. Huawei Cloud is second in China and fifth in the global IaaS market.