2 months ago
 

SnapTravel raises $8 million Series A

Toronto-based SnapTravel, which allows users to search and book hotels via Facebook Messenger and SMS, has secured a Series A funding round worth $8 million, led by iNovia.

The funding will be used to “double down on technology and to fuel growth.”

SnapTravel launched on Facebook Messenger just over a year ago and has generated more than $1 million in revenues so far. At this year’s Facebook developers’ conference f8 it announced a chat extension to its Facebook offer. It is also working with Viber.

The business uses a  combination of natural language processing and machine learning to automate search queries and bookings, with a team of human agents on hand 24/7 when needed.

Hotels are sourced either direct with the property or via partners such as Expedia, booking.com. Amadeus and Sabre.

Its statement said that existing investors  Lightbank, BeePartners and Hedgewood took part in the Series A, with Expedia Inc board member Peter Kern also joining as a strategic investor.

SnapTravel was founded by “repeat tech entrepreneurs” Hussein Fazal  and Henry Shi. Fazal sold his Facebook advertising business AdParlor to AdKnowledge, while Shi developed college-campus  social site uMentioned and was an engineer at Google.

Fazal has written a detailed “how we got to where we are” post for Medium, in which he reveals, among other things, the importance of continuous testing, referencing booking.com as an example. He said:

“Because chatbots are such a new space with new user behaviors, we are not opinionated about product features. Instead, we let the data and customer interactions guide us towards building the best experience over chat.

“Similar to Booking.com, we have invested in internal tools that allow us to run hundreds of tests in parallel, anything from messaging frequency, tone and length to web UI fonts, colors and interactions.”

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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 e-tid.com, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.

 

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  1. Louise Oldfield

    My experience as a small hotelier based in the UK is that in the last 24 hours I enquired about my own rooms via the SnapTravel platform is that their human agents repeatedly falsely stated my business was sold out and claimed they had contacted us for verification then offering to check availability with our competitors. I issued a complaint and they stopped replying and so far no response from the owners. Do they really have human contact with the hotels they claim? How are they treating independent hotels that aren’t on booking sites? This is potentially very damaging to businesses not affiliated with them or their partners.

     
 
 

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