DTPB | June 03, 2020
Discover The Palm Beaches (DTPB), Palm Beach County's official tourism marketing organization, today announced that the destination has signed on to pursue the Global Biorisk Advisory Council's (GBAC) STAR accreditation, making it the first and only Florida destination undertaking the task, and among the first in the nation. DTPB is coordinating the program in collaborating with the Tourist Development Council (TDC) of Palm Beach County and its various agencies.
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.”
Holiday Inn | April 23, 2021
Ken Hamlet, the former CEO of Holiday Inn, intends to use a $500 million war chest to acquire limited-service hotels (those without facilities such as a restaurant or spa) and reposition them as properties with a more upscale customer experience.
Consider it adding more of the Four Seasons experience to roadside hotels, as Hamlet put it.
He was CEO of Holiday Inn for nine years in the 1980s and early 1990s, and during that time the business was purchased by IHG and introduced or acquired brands such as Embassy Suites, Crowne Plaza, Hampton Inn, and Harrah's. Rather than starting his fund, Hamlet joined Olive Tree Hotels & Resorts, a hotel investment group where he now serves as CEO, to pursue deals.
“I began to think of maybe now is a very good time to take advantage of getting back into the hotel industry and purchasing distressed assets or buying assets that were well-located, well-branded, relatively well-managed, and that were being distressed and only needed additional capital to get them up to 2021 standards,” he said this week.
The only thing is that there is a litany of hotel investors drooling about hotel investment prospects that did not come true before the pandemic.
Investment firms such as CGI Merchant Group, in collaboration with New York Yankees baseball legend Alex Rodriguez, and Bainbridge DXS are also scouring the market for hotel acquisitions of hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. Dreamscape Cos., owner of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, has more than $1 billion in cash to purchase hotels, including troubled business-transient and convention-focused properties.
Olive Tree's capital distinguishes itself by concentrating on limited-service hotels in a mix of the 75 major U.S. cities as well as some secondary and tertiary markets such as Las Cruces, New Mexico. As long as there is a nearby demand driver, such as a hospital, university, or office park, the company can seek a deal. The majority of buyers are looking for troubled hotels in metropolitan markets or resorts in drive-to and leisure destinations.
Olive Tree intends to upgrade its guest rooms with more innovative features, such as automated check-ins and co-working-inspired workspaces in public areas. But, in addition to the technology, Hamlet desires enhanced client support, such as staffers adding personal touches to the guest experience, such as a bottle of wine or glass of champagne delivered to a room or hors d'oeuvres and chocolate bars in the lobby.
The move is reminiscent of how Holiday Inn became a brand. Kemmons Wilson established the roadside motel business in the early 1950s after becoming dissatisfied with the choices offered on a road trip between Memphis, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.
He set out to fix it because there was no consistency or quality in the accommodation experience. Olive Tree intends to replicate the success of existing limited-service hotels that are underperforming.
Many of Olive Tree's acquisitions would be branded by major companies such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG. However, the company is not opposed to maintaining property independence or even launching its brand.
It is unclear when any of those acquisition goals will become available. Olive Tree reportedly has one hotel under contract and another "in the works."
Due to a mix of bank forbearance on mortgages and several rounds of federal stimulus by offerings such as the Paycheck Protection Program of forgivable small business loans, there haven't been as many distressed hotel properties exchanged throughout the last year. The Olive Tree team does not anticipate having to wait much longer.