The COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a standstill and funding for travel startups completely dried up. But is there light at the end of the tunnel? It seems so. As global travel and bookings rebound to record levels following two years of consumer uncertainty, it looks like travel startups are now getting back on their foot.
Berlin-based ground transportation platform Omio has sealed a funding round of $80 million from some of the world’s leading tech and growth investors, including Lazard Asset Management, Stack Capital Group, NEA, Temasek, and funds managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
Omio, the travel platform formerly known as GoEuro, offers a search tool that enables users to find the fastest and cheapest travel options. The company had earlier raised $100 million in 2020 and acquired rival Rome2Rio and launched in North America in 2020. However, revenue and bookings dropped by about 95% when the pandemic hit and it went from a growth business model to have to manage its cash.
Rising from the ashes, it has now geared up to move forward and cash in on the growing need to travel, yet again.
In addition to an increase in customer demand, the travel platform is witnessing a growth of over 140 per cent above pre-pandemic 2019 levels in ticket bookings. This comes along with a continuous shift to booking transportation via mobile applications, as well as a sustained shift to more sustainable transportation modes.
Naren Shaam, CEO and founder of Omio, said: “This funding from a strong roster of investors, after a rough two years, underlines the enormous power and potential of our business model, as well as our belief that the human need to travel is unwavering. This desire to travel has evolved, and we are observing fundamental shifts in the sector, such as a move towards ground transport, mobile-ﬁrst bookings and an increase in non-hub travel. All of these will fuel our growth for years to come. The fresh funds will allow us to pursue our vision of a globally uniﬁed transportation network on a single digital platform.”
Omio has invested in its product, inventory and its core business of ground transport over the past two years, including launching Portugal to become the ﬁrst third-party booking platform to sell tickets from Comboios de Portugal, the country’s state-owned railway company.
With the new funding, it looks like the company is poised to acquire similar businesses that are currently struggling in the current environment. The capital raised will help in restarting global expansion activities including M&A and scaling partnerships, such as the existing collaborations with Kayak, Huawei, LNER (London North Eastern Railway) and others.