Room 77 takes $30M injection, Expedia involved, as meta arms race heats up
Expedia isn’t leading the round. A number of investors put up the same cash, including Sutter Hill Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Concur Technologies, Felicis Ventures as well as Expedia’s founder Rich Barton, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford and Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow.
Expedia does not have a majority stake. That honor is retained by founder Brad Gerstner.
This round brings Mountain View startup’s funding total to $43.8 million.
Expedia is clearly interested in metasearch, given that this move comes hot after its purchase of European metasearch site Trivago. It’s yet another countermove to Google’s push into metasearch with its Hotel Finder and Flights products, and Priceline’s purchase of Kayak, the leading US metasearch player.
In a press statement, Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer said:
“We believe metasearch is an increasingly important model and complementary to our travel transaction businesses. The level of innovation and depth of content at Room 77 excites us about its future role in this important customer acquisition channel.”
Concur Technologies, a previous investor, has tossed more money into the pot, though it is not technically a leader. In a statement, John Torrey, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy for Concur, said:
“We’re building a travel ecosystem that dynamically responds to the needs of business travelers, the companies that they work for and the suppliers that serve them. Through The Perfect Trip Fund and the Concur T&E Cloud, we’re bringing some of the best innovations like those from Room 77 together to revolutionize business travel.”
A big day
It’s a day of validation for Kevin Fliess, GM & VP Product, who has persevered despite some critics claiming Room 77 has had little traction in the marketplace. Fliess plans to use the additional capital to hire employees, enter markets, and boost its marketing.
It’s another day of vindication for founder Brad Gerstner, who is also the CEO of Altimeter Capital. He’s had a Midas touch lately, as another travel startup that he’s been an angel investor in, Nor1, recently received a fat Series B round, which Concur Technologies also participated in.
It has only been a year since Room 77 launched its hotel metasearch platform, though it had a room-identification tool that went into beta launch earlier than that, in February 2011.
The company claims that, in the past nine months, it has driven “hundreds of thousands room nights” downstream to transaction partners, including: EAN, Expedia, Hotels.com, TravelNow, and TSP.
The company also touts “a repeat booking rate of more than 50%.”
The main unique offering of Room 77 is its free Room Concierge service, which uses proprietary room data, such as blueprints and simulated RoomView technology, to help travelers choose the best room.
Also uniquely, if consumers use Room 77 itself as the agency for booking in three- to five-star hotels, they can enjoy additional assurances of getting a specific room as shown on the site’s mix of 3D illustration and photo hotel blueprints. What’s more, the site uniquely displays special rates, like AAA and senior discounts, side-by-side with standard rates at many properties.
In related news, Jim White, Managing Director of Sutter Hill Ventures, will join Room 77’s board. White joins illustrious company.
The startup has an all-star cast of supporters, such as board members Hugh Crean, the CEO of Farecast who led to that company’s purchase by Microsoft; strategic advisor Sam Shank, the founder of Hotel Tonight; technical advisor Luke Wroblewski, the famous digital design guru; and vice-president of partner relations Melissa Beauchamp, who previously helped launch the hotel product at Hotwire; Joel Cutler has been responsible for General Catalyst Partners’s previous investment in the company. (See the full, impressive team list, here.)
Sean O’Neill is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He is also a daily contributor of consumer news to LonelyPlanet.com.
He used to work for BBC Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and Kiplinger's, and used to live in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.