Howzat invests in upgrade bidding app Seatfrog

Seatfrog, an Australian app which allows passengers to bid for upgrades on flights, has picked up AUS$1.2 million ($860,000) in funding from Howzat Partners.

The app is currently in private beta and will be launched globally next year later this year. (Corrected June 2. Sorry.)

CEO and co-founder Iain Griffin told Tnooz that Seatfrog was different from other players in the seat upgrade sector as it allows airlines to sell inventory up to the point of departure.

He said this fitted with research which showed that the optimum window for airlines to sell an upgrade was close to the point of departure.

Bidding for upgrades has been in the news a lot recently as a number of airlines explore ways to make the most from unsold premium seats as part of the drive towards “ancillary revenues”.

Most recently Amadeus partnered with Plusgrade to allow customers to bid for upgrades with airlines using Amadeus’ Altea platform. But the Amadeus/Plusgrade version ends the sale between 24 and 72 hours before departure and is carried out

Griffin added that Seatfrog was taking an eBay approach to the auction – airlines can set the reserve and people can bid, in real-time and against each other, just like on eBay. He also said that airlines could offer upgrades at a fixed price via a Buy It Now option.

It also uses GPS technology within the app to recognise when a passenger arrives at the airport so that Seatfrog or the airline can push a message to the traveller about the upgrade auction. Griffin said that the thinking behind this “is to capture the passengers’ peak level of interest in ancillaries.”

The product exists as a standalone app, but can also be integrated into an airline’s own app with payments made through the relevant channel.

Airlines will also get access to Seatfrog analytics, with Griffin saying that as the product develops over time, insight into how travellers bid for upgrades will be fed back to the airlines so they can optimise fields such as starting price and duration to maximise the revenues.

And for passengers, Griffin noted that “anyone who travels would like an upgrade, and what we wamt to do is make the customers feel like they are in control of the process in a transparent,  user-friendly and familiar way.”

Its statement says the Seatfrog app is “already tightly integrated with airlines’ booking systems.”

Howzat’s co-founder and partner David Soskin said in the funding announcement that Seatfrog was a “wonderful confluence of the right idea, and the right business, at the right time.”

Related reading from Tnooz:
Where next for airline merchandising as carriers reap volume and yield gains? (May 2016)

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Martin Cowen

About the Writer :: Martin Cowen

Martin Cowen is contributing editor for tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports. For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology. Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.



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