TravelNest secures £1.8m from Silicon Valley Bank and Scottish Enterprise to help drive ‘staycation’ growth at vacation rental platform
Scottish start-up TravelNest has secured £1.8 million from Silicon Valley Bank UK Branch(SVB) and Scottish Enterprise to help drive ‘staycation’ growth and support a strong rebound from Covid-19.
In common with the wider travel industry, TravelNest experienced a bookings downturn in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but the vacation rental platform has seen a significant bookings bounce back as traveller confidence returns.
TravelNest’s product improves occupancy rates for vacation rental properties by automating marketing and increasing exposure on top booking sites like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Vrbo and TUI, while reducing administration time for vacation rental owners.
Since lockdown measures eased earlier this year, TravelNest has recorded triple-digit increases in nights booked via its platform.
The funding comprises of a £1.5m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loan from SVB and £300,000 from Scottish Enterprise’s Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund, which was set up to assist high-growth companies where the impact of Covid-19 has had a negative effect on a company’s revenue, working capital costs or access to equity investment.
The funds will be used to further product development and grow TravelNest’s customer base.
Industry research indicates that appetite for travel remains strong, while demand patterns have shifted. According to Skift data, domestic share has increased by 45% and TravelNest is well positioned to take advantage, with its predominantly rural portfolio and a strong UK presence. Half of TravelNest’s property portfolio is UK-based, with the remainder located across international markets.
TravelNest founder and CEO Doug Stephenson says the company is now positioned for a strong return to growth: “We are excited about the year ahead. The changing dynamics of travel play to our advantage and present a huge opportunity for TravelNest and our customers.
Industry data shows that people are opting for holiday rentals over hotels, and there is also a marked shift in travel behaviour with more domestic travel and a preference for accommodation in rural rather than urban settings.”
TravelNest is one of Scotland’s leading venture capital-backed technology companies having raised a £3m seed investment round backed by Pentech, Mangrove Capital Partners and Frontline Ventures in 2017. This was followed by a successful £5.1m Series A funding round in 2019.
TravelNest’s software product - an online marketing platform - was launched in 2018 and offers vacation rental property hosts listing automation, global exposure on top booking sites, optimised listings, calendar sync, and a bookings and payments hub.
Former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan, who authored the recent Scottish Government-commissioned Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, is a non-executive director on TravelNest’s board and Rebecca Moore, previously senior director for growth in Europe and the Americas at Skyscanner, joined the company last year and is now TravelNest’s COO.
Rebecca, said: “We’ve had amazing support from Silicon Valley Bank, first as a banking client and now as the recipient of a CBILS loan. The bank’s team has a deep understanding of the high-growth start-up sector and also understood the market dynamics we were faced with earlier in the year. We’re also incredibly grateful for the ongoing support we’ve had from Scottish Enterprise.”
Bailey Morrow, Director at Silicon Valley Bank, said: “We are very excited to deepen our partnership with TravelNest. The company has shown great resilience in an incredibly trying time and we look forward to being a part of their growth story.”
Jan Robertson, interim director, Scottish Enterprise, said: “The Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund was established to ensure gains made in recent years by Scotland’s most promising businesses weren’t erased by Covid-19.
"Our support has helped TravelNest continue to innovate during the pandemic, meaning it’s well-positioned to seize the opportunities created by the anticipated changes to travellers’ behaviour in a post-Covid world.
"Having previously provided the company with equity investment, grant funding and advisory support in recognition of its impressive offering, it comes as no surprise to Scottish Enterprise to see TravelNest overcome the obstacles created by the coronavirus.”