Tripping.com Rides Homesharing Wave to Raise Funds, Add BookingsBy
Startup raises $35 million to hire staff, increase ads
San Francisco company to book $500 million in travel in 2016
Homesharing website Tripping.com has raised $35 million in new funding, trying to capitalize on the popularity of travelers choosing to stay in private homes rather than hotels.
Princeville Global led the financing round for the San Francisco-based company, which raised $16 million last year. The company declined to provide a valuation. Past investors include former Expedia Inc. Chief Executive Officer Erik Blachford and Qunar.com Inc. co-founder Fritz Demopoulos.
Tripping.com crawls the web for vacation property and homesharing listings, organizes them by price and location, and gets a referral fee when users click through to the original listings. Its website boasts 10 million properties at a time when demand for non-hotel accommodation is ballooning and traditional travel bookers like Expedia and Priceline Group Inc. are doubling down on the space to keep Airbnb Inc. at bay. The site now handles $500 million in bookings a year, six times what it did in 2015 and Chief Executive Officer Jen O’Neal said she hopes to double that in 2017.
O’Neal said she plans to use the new money to hire new employees and ramp up marketing, including running a TV ad campaign in the U.S. and potentially Europe.
“The reasons we raised this round was to get aggressive both here in the U.S. and abroad,” she said in a phone interview. “I would love to do a billion dollars in bookings next year.”
In 2015, a third of U.S. travelers stayed in private accommodations of some sort, compared with just 10 percent in 2010, according to travel research firm Phocuswright.
Quickly growing travel startups often find themselves in the cross hairs of the top three online travel companies, which have consolidated the worldwide market with billions of dollars in acquisitions over the last decade. Ctrip.com International Ltd., the third-largest online travel site by bookings after Expedia and Priceline, stepped out of its home market of China last month with the $1.7 billion purchase of Edinburgh-based Skyscanner Ltd.
Tripping.com has received interest from potential acquirers, O’Neal said, declining to name specific companies. She doesn’t want to sell yet though. O’Neal was one of the first employees at ticketing website StubHub Inc. until its sale to EBay Inc. in 2007 for $310 million. Some StubHub employees, herself included, regret selling so early, considering how big the company has now become under EBay, O’Neal said.
“The market’s catching up to where we are and if we sold the company now it would be too early,” she said. “We could become a multibillion company.”
Tripping.com’s business model is known as meta-search in the online travel space. It’s the same concept used by Kayak.com and Trivago. The sites let people see everything available on the web in one shot, and give them the sense they’re finding the best price. Alphabet Inc.’s Google has pushed into the area too, letting travelers search for flights and hotels using its own tools before sending them directly to a booking site.