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Tracking travel startup investment trends in 2021 – PhocusWire



While 2021 has been another rough year for travel startups and the wider industry, funding rounds, both large and small, have given rise to optimism.

Standout sectors attracting investment such as alternative accommodation and ground transportation mark a similar trend to 2020 but tours and activities, business travel and hotel tech startups are also getting some love.

A report from Lufthansa Innovation Hub estimates investment in travel startups will be about $44 billion in 2021, up from 2020’s figure of $23 billion.

Phocuswright’s latest State Of Startups report, which doesn’t include ground transportation startups, pegs the amount raised in 2021 at $31.9 billion. 

A further feature of 2021 has been exits via special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and there’s likely more to come there.

Below, we look at some of the travel startup funding highlights of 2021 as well as SPAC deals and M&A activity.

Rental r(evolution)

Investment appetite has been clear for alternative accommodation startups and tuck-in businesses around the segment with the trend continuing from 2021.

While much of 2020’s excitement was around Airbnb’s initial public offering, this year it has been more about vacation rental startups and RV services.

Significant rounds have gone into vacation home co-ownership startup Pacaso with $125 million and Outdoorsy with $120 million while luxury rental company Kocomo with $56 million, Holidu with $45 million and Getaway with $42 million, also benefited from excitement in the segment.

Smaller rounds were announced for rental property management platform Guesty $50 million, while Cosi raised €20 million, Cabana $10 million, Collective Retreats $23 million and RVezy $20 million.

Also noteworthy are the SPAC exits across the segment with Vacasa going public earlier this month at a valuation of $4.4 billion while vacation rental metasearch company HomeToGo listed in September.

Meanwhile, Selina is heading for a $1.2 billion valuation when it floats next year and Sonder, also planning to go public via SPAC, has said it expects the combined company to be worth $2.2 billion.

Despite the investment pouring into alternative accommodation, hotel technology companies have also sparked considerable interest.

Channel management specialist SiteMinder attracted $74 million in September ahead of its listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in early November.

It was not the only Asia-Pacific company attracting investment with hotel technology specialist Xie Zhu landing $46 million.

Meanwhile, Cloudbeds raised $150 million while hotel market intelligence company OTA Insight saw investment of $80 million.

Life House, which manages Kayak’s hotels, landed $60 million and Butler Hospitality attracted $35 million.

Mobility momentum

Ground transportation startups covering everything from e-bikes and e-scooters to rideshare, bus transport and autonomous driving is the other star of 2021 when it comes to funding.

Bus service platforms FlixMobiilty and Buser landed $650 million and $138 million respectively while rideshare and bike services such as Bolt and Lime received €600 million and $523 million respectively.

E-bike startup Tier and taxi-hailing service Gett were also conspicuous by the investment flowing in attracting $260 million and $115 million respectively.

Developing the technology around autonomous driving takes time and is costly, in the billions rather than millions, which explains the significant rounds invested in Waymo with $2.5 billion, Cruise with $750 million, Momenta with $500 million and DeepRoute with $300 million.

Other notable rounds going into the segment include $88.5 million for autonomous driving technology specialist 42dot, $107 million for transport technology company Optibus and $500 million for aviation mobility company HT Aero.

Corporate travel

Funding momentum into corporate travel startups did not let up in 2021 despite ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 and travel restrictions.

The usual suspects, TripActions and TravelPerk, continued to attract significant funding with TripActions landing more than $400 million and TravelPerk attracting $160 million.

SpotNana, a newbie to the segment, announced $41 million in funding including investment from Concur founder Steve Singh.

A $65 million investment in corporate accommodation management platform Hotel Engine also signalled confidence in the segment.

Off exploring

While many tours & activities startups hunkered down in 2020 to save costs and devote energy to development, this year there has been a bit of a revival in their fortunes.

Startups in the segment will have received a bit of a boost from travelers, whether domestic, regional or international, looking to invest in experiences.

Most recently T&A platform Peek announced an $80 million round led by former Airbnb executives.

Easol, a technology platform for experiences providers, also recently attracted total funding of almost $30 million this year with its investment earmarked for recruitment and product development.

Looking back to earlier in 2021, Klook announced $200 million in funding in a bid to widen its platform to other travel services while GetYourGuide added an €80 million investment saying it was scoping out strategic investments.

SPACs, sales and shutters

Looking ahead while trends remain hard to call, activity around SPACs, mergers and acquisitions and business failures are more of a certainty.

Business travel specialists Upside and Lola both announced they were ceasing operations in September although Lola later found a home with Capital One.

Flight technology startup Trip Ninja also announced it was shutting its doors only to later be saved by Webjet.

The wider industry has seen a spate of further consolidation across segments with notable acquisitions including Booking Holdings’ acquisition of Getaroom and eTraveli, U.S. Bancorp buying TravelBank, FlixMobility purchasing Greyhound, PROS acquiring Everymundo and Hyatt buying Apple Leisure Group.

There are too many others to name and there will be more down the line and across all segments as a smaller, and hopefully smarter, travel industry emerges.

The final word goes to SPACS and while mentioned above in the context of accommodation, there are more to be done.

American Express GBT’s deal with Apollo Strategic Growth Capital, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022, will be one of the ones to garner most interest.

While other travel companies such as Inspirato and HotelPlanner have announced their intentions and identified their partners, other funds are waiting in the wings without a travel target so far.

New regulations coming for SPACs and a dampening in excitement around them could leave some high and dry.

Other notable rounds in 2021:

Flyr $150M

Ixigo $53M

Keenon Robotics $200M

Pudu Robotics $77M

Kakao Mobilit $200M

Hopper $345M 

AllTrails $150M

EasyMile €55M

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U.S. insurer Travelers posts record profit on investment returns – Reuters



Jan 20 (Reuters) – Property and casualty insurer Travelers Cos Inc reported a record quarterly profit on Thursday as higher returns from its investments cushioned the hit from a rise in catastrophe-related claims.

The New York-based company, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (.DJI), is seen as a bellwether for the insurance sector as it typically reports before its peers.

The insurer said it earned a core income of $1.29 billion, or $5.20 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $1.26 billion, or $4.91 per share, a year earlier.

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Analysts on average had expected a profit of $3.86 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Travelers’ pre-tax net investment income jumped 10% to $743 million, driven by higher returns on its private equity and real estate partnership.

Its net written premiums rose 10% to $7.9 billion.

Travelers said the catastrophe losses it incurred in the quarter mainly stemmed from tornado activity in Kentucky, windstorms in multiple U.S. states and a wildfire in Colorado.

Devastation from tornadoes that slammed parts of the United States in December are expected to push the insurance industry’s 2021 bill for weather-related claims well above the predicted $105 billion, industry experts have said. read more

Travelers reported a combined ratio of 88%, compared with 86.7% a year earlier. A ratio below 100% means the insurer earned more in premiums than it paid out in claims.

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Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Darren Herft believes ETFs present a unique investment opportunity – Net Newsledger



Darren Herft

Exchange traded funds (ETF) are securities that track a sector, commodity, or an index. Unlike mutual funds that can only be traded once a day, Exchange traded funds (ETF) prices fluctuate all day, much like specific stocks being exchanged on the stock market. 

According to veteran investor Darren Herft, ETFs have opened a new vista for investors as they can be traded on most stock exchanges in the same way as regular stocks. 

“Exchange traded funds (ETF) can be organised to track a diverse array of investments, ranging from individual commodity prices to any number of securities,” says the Australian entrepreneur. 

“They can be designed to track investment strategies!” he adds. 

Darren Herft believes that the lower expense ratios coupled with lower brokerage fees makes them a lucrative option for investors looking to diversify their holdings. 

“For investors looking for more liquidity, Exchange traded funds (ETF) provide a better avenue than mutual funds,” says Darren Herft. 

He believes that in many ways, Exchange traded funds (ETF) hold an edge above stocks. 

Darren Herft says, “Rather than holding only one asset like a stock, Exchange traded funds (ETF) hold multiple assets and that has helped their popularity.”

A single Exchange traded fund (ETF) could have numerous stocks under its umbrella. While some are nationally focused, others are global. 

Darren Herft says that even within the Exchange traded fund (ETF) world, there are various options for investors to consider. 

“Their utility can range from income generation to hedging or partly offsetting risks in an investor’s arsenal,” says Herft. 

He thinks that more fiscally conservative investors might find Bond Exchange traded funds (ETF) to be suited to their needs and temperament. Bond Exchange traded funds (ETF) provide regular income to their holders depending upon the performance of the bonds under their umbrella. 

“Bond ETFs could have government bonds, corporate bonds or municipal bonds in their ambit and unlike bonds, they don’t have a maturity date,” says Herft. 

Herft says that more risk-tolerant investors might find their match in Stock Exchange traded funds (ETF). Consisting of a basket of stocks that track a whole sector or industry, they provide an investor with a uniquely diverse portfolio with established high performers coupled with newer stocks with growth potential. 

“It’s a good collection of stocks and investors don’t have to worry about high fees associated with stock mutual funds,” adds Herft. 

Other types of Exchange traded funds (ETF) include Industry ETFs, Commodity ETFs, Currency ETFs, and Inverse ETFs. Herft thinks that the most attractive quality of this investment vehicle is its ability to be diverse and specialized at the same time. 

While the AFL aficionado believes that Exchange traded funds (ETF) can be a useful vehicle for many investors, he is of the opinion that they should not be put on a pedestal.

“As with any investment, there are pros and cons and I would recommend anyone looking to invest in anything to do their own independent research and consult experts if they can, before making a decision,” he adds.

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Feds announce $3M investment for Calgary’s Energy Transition Centre –



As Calgary attempts to become a centre for a transitioning energy industry, a new hub that focuses on clean energy in the city’s downtown core has received a major boost.

Federal ministers, along with Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, were on hand Wednesday to announce a federal investment of more than $3 million towards the clean technology sector in Alberta, including more than $2.1 million to help fund the Energy Transition Centre.

Another $900,000 is earmarked for the Foresight clean technology accelerator, to provide training and investment attraction for Alberta clean technology companies.

Read more:

Getting regulations right key to unlocking Alberta’s next energy economy

“We are moving in the direction of seriously harnessing the potential of Calgary’s energy sector — the technology that we have resident in this sector for the future of the energy second,” University of Calgary chancellor Deborah Yedlin said. “This is our Wayne Gretzky moment, we’re asking towards where the puck is going.”

The Energy Transition Centre will take up an entire vacant floor at the Ampersand building in Calgary’s downtown core.

Barring any issues with COVID-19, officials said the plan is for the centre to open on March 1.

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IEA head says Canadian oil industry can be part of energy transition if it gets cleaner

IEA head says Canadian oil industry can be part of energy transition if it gets cleaner

“This innovation hub will help small- and medium-sized businesses develop clean energy technologies that will help meet a growing global demand for environmentally-friendly products and processes,” said Daniel Vandal, federal minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada.

According to officials, the Energy Transition Centre is set to be a space to connect Canadian energy companies with clean energy start-ups, innovators and investors with access resources and experts in the field.

Federal officials hope the centre helps to create 25 new businesses in the clean energy sector over the next three years.

Read more:

Alberta needs billions more to invest in energy transition: study

Calgary’s mayor said the investment provides both a boost to the city’s efforts to become an energy transition hub as well as its work to revitalize the downtown core.

“We are seeing bold, innovative and collaborative ideas coming forward that are inspired by entrepreneurial Calgarians,” Gondek said. “This will be a catalyst for success in terms of Calgary’s leadership in climate protection and energy transformation, as well as our downtown revitalization.”

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From lithium to hydrogen: How Alberta hopes to power the new energy future

From lithium to hydrogen: How Alberta hopes to power the new energy future – Jan 6, 2022

According to a study on energy transition released in December, a clean energy sector could create 170,000 jobs and contribute up to $61 billion to the province’s GDP by 2050.  However, the study also estimates a path to net zero would need $2.1 billion in annual investments by 2030, increasing to $5.5 billion by 2040.

Although Wednesday’s announcement was encouraging for some experts, there is some belief that policy changes and not just funding will be key to a successful clean energy sector in the province.

“There are ways that governments can use financial tools to provide guarantees that can stimulate a lot more investment to prove out new technologies, and also to make sure that support is structured fairly,” University of Calgary sustainable energy development masters director Sara Hastings-Simon said.

“We’re going to be in a world that looks very different from an energy perspective in just a couple years from now, and so we don’t have a lot of time really left to wait — we really need to be preparing now for that future.”

The investment was also welcomed by Alberta’s opposition NDP, who were also critical of the notable absence of the provincial government during the announcement.

“There is zero investment from the province in this initiative. Why is the UCP ghosting Alberta’s efforts to diversify the economy and promote clean energy?” NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley said in a statement.

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‘Elon is watching us’: Calgary woman uses nanotechnology to create new lithium extraction technology

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Jobs, Economy & Innovation said the province wasn’t involved in the announcement because there was no provincial funding for the initiative.

“We remain committed to responsible energy development, reducing emissions and supporting jobs,” Alberta government spokesperson Tricia Velthuizen said in a statement to Global News. “Through innovation and technology, industry can continue to reduce emissions, even with increased oil and gas production.”

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Kenney touts energy industry success at Chamber of Commerce speech

Kenney touts energy industry success at Chamber of Commerce speech – Dec 8, 2021

According to Vandal, the federal government is looking at projects with Alberta’s provincial government and that both are “aligned on job creation and diversifying the economy.”

“Those consultations and communications are occuring,” Vandal said. “All levels of government need to be on the same page.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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