Tech firm promises biggest shakeup of travel sector since budget air travel
Published on Monday, October 28, 2019
A British travel technology company is promising the ‘biggest shakeup of the travel sector since the launch of budget air travel’ with a new booking platform.
Duffel has raised $30 million from investors to launch the platform with some of the world’s biggest airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa Group, Aegean Airlines, Vueling, Iberia.
Duffel will use the investment to hire more engineers and expand its broader team.
It is focusing on expanding in North America and Europe, with its first customers drawn from the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany and Spain.
The technology allows travel agencies to plug in directly to airlines’ reservation systems via an API to pull real-time flight offers, make bookings, access live seat availability, and buy extra services.
Until now, new digital and mobile travel agencies – Duffel’s target market – have been forced to endure long lead times and high costs to access clunky flight booking systems, legacy APIs and outdated, cryptic screens.
Index Ventures, the backers of Adyen, Dropbox and Slack, led the Series B round, and were joined by existing investors Benchmark Capital and Blossom Capital.
Steve Domin, Duffel co-founder and CEO, said: “A new breed of online agencies want to access reservation systems quickly and seamlessly. By reinventing the underwiring between online agents and airlines we can transform the world of travel booking and reduce barriers to entry for innovative new companies that are offering travellers a whole new way of creating a holiday or trip.”
The company said despite the size and economic clout of the travel industry, the booking experience hasn’t improved ‘since the first wave of travel startups such as Expedia and Kayak’.
It says consumers now visit dozens of websites before completing a booking, and a majority of business trips are still booked via email or on the phone.~
Although new OTAs are emerging to make the process less fragmented, inadequate APIs make it difficult for them to access airline data, navigate the regulatory landscape and create packages that meet their clients’ expectations.
Duffel claims its technology will enable agents to build their integration in just a few hours and sell flights to consumers the next day.
Jan Hammer, partner at Index Ventures, said: “We are incredibly impressed by the Duffel team, who we have supported since the days of their seed funding. There is an opportunity here to transform the booking experience for travellers and ease many of the pain points in the industry. From the launch of budget airlines to sharing economy businesses like Airbnb, travel has changed and Duffel will provide the tools, built from the ground up, that make the next wave of innovation possible.”