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Summer vacation is in and folks are out — of office, that is. According to the US Travel Association, air travel alone is up 10%, and total spending is up 5% year-to-date. Yet despite this small spike, travel has changed since the pandemic, leaving room for technology and innovation to take root in this highly traditional industry. And for private equity firms that know where to look, opportunities for new and exciting investments are ripe.
Let’s take a look at some of the top trends across the industry and a few key characteristics of the fastest growing travel companies.
To understand what's driving growth in the travel and hospitality industry, we must look at recent events. From technology innovations to changes in how travelers think about and approach their next adventure, these trends are influencing the fastest-growing travel companies.
Prior to the pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry had experienced very few changes over the last several years. But COVID-19 made rapid adjustments necessary — from contactless check-in and mobile room keys to improved sanitation and cleaning activities — and it left travel and hospitality companies racing to catch up.
In addition to these technology-powered processes, hotels, destinations, venues, attractions, and more are also expected to have a digital presence. While some social media channels like TikTok have been around for years, they're still underutilized and "new" to the travel and hospitality industry. But the channel's influence is undeniable. In a recent survey by MGH, 60% of respondents said they became interested in a new destination after seeing a relevant TikTok video, and 35% of respondents actually traveled.
Other technology — artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and even bots that use natural language processing (NLP) — are becoming increasingly prevalent as travel and hospitality companies aim to attract new visitors. As innovations are made, travel technology companies are sure to provide ample opportunities for firms looking to enter the market.
Just as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing has become incredibly popular in private equity, sustainable travel is top-of-mind for travelers. According to Research and Markets, the sustainable travel market is expected to grow by $335.93 billion over the next four years, accelerating at a CAGR of 9.54% through 2027. Kind Traveler found that 96% of travelers think it’s important their travel dollars are positively impacting the places they visit.
Additionally, Operto found that travelers are willing to pay up to 75% more for an eco-friendly option when booking accommodations. But corporate travel is where the most impact can be made. For example, PwC estimates 53% of its carbon footprint comes from business travel. Companies that facilitate greener practices will likely become more important as travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Love it or hate it, remote working is here to stay. And for the travel & hospitality industry, it's creating massive new opportunities when workers combine business with leisure trips. But for those managing the properties where these guests stay, it means changing how they do business.
More guests need internet access during the day. Meeting rooms must be more accessible, easier to book, and self-serviceable. Dates both before and after conferences may be booked at a higher rate as attendees extend their trips to squeeze in some sightseeing.
Property managers are looking to travel technology companies to help them better accommodate these needs. And for private equity firms, travel tech startups who understand these challenges and can help properties or business travelers make bleisure (business + leisure) trips easier and more attainable may prove to be valuable investments.
Travel has always been about having memorable and exciting experiences, whether trying new cuisine or seeing natural phenomena. But travelers are more concerned about the authenticity of these experiences than ever before, leading them to increasingly venture outside resorts and off beaten paths. According to a survey by GetYourGuide, 90% of travelers say experiencing a destination as locals do is a priority, while 45% are concerned about having an unauthentic experience.
As you'll see in our list of the fastest-growing travel companies, those paying attention to these trends and prioritizing what's important to travelers are the ones showing the most growth.
While trends based on travelers' interests and goals can give an idea of where the industry as a whole is heading, firms that wish to add to their portfolio should also look at trends among the fastest-growing travel companies. To help, we used SourceScrub's deal sourcing platform to find the top 50 fastest-growing private travel & hospitality companies in the world based on their recent 3-month growth.
The US is the most popular country of origin, at just over half (52%), with the UK coming in second at 20%. The rest of the group is relatively distributed, with France in third at 10%, the Netherlands in fourth at 8%, and Canada and China comprising the smallest percentages at 6% and 4%, respectively.
While most of the fastest-growing companies in our previous lists usually hail from the US, this is one of the more global distributions we've seen, perhaps owing to the nature of the industry.
One of the more surprising trends is that nearly half (48%) of the fastest-growing travel companies are one to two decades old, founded between 2000 and 2009. Almost all of them were founded before the pandemic, with 44% between 2010 and 2019. Unsurprisingly, just 8% were founded in the past three years. However, all 4 of those companies were founded in 2020 or 2021, leading us to believe their product or service is remarkably resilient.
SourceScrub’s deal sourcing platform was able to estimate revenue for each of the fastest-growing travel companies on our list. The results are close to a normal distribution, with outliers at both the low and high end. Half have an estimated revenue between $1 and $10 million, with the next bracket, $11 - $25 million, in second place at 32%. 14% of our list have an estimated revenue of between $26 and $50 million, with the largest (over $50 million) and smallest (under $1 million) at 2% each.
Anywhere is a hybrid travel agency that syncs real traveler insights with online travel booking and in-country travel experts to help travelers design authentic, personally customized cultural experiences anywhere in the world. Created itineraries reflect the nuanced places, activities, and experiences each traveler seeks to explore, factoring in their budget, length of trip, and the total number of travelers.
Discover Holidays offers creative, competitive, and superior quality vacations, whether they are tailored to a fully independent traveler (FIT) or custom group. It is a leading inbound tour operator for Canada and Alaska and the team behind Canada by Design and Alaska by Design vacation brands.
Elite Transportation is a Las Vegas-based party bus provider that aims to create unforgettable experiences on special occasions for customers. It offers party buses and F-650 limousines that seat up to 40 passengers, and will go out of their way to give all involved a safe and fun experience.
Explora aims to redefine ocean travel for the new generation of discerning explorers. It creates and provides a unique luxury travel experience for those who want to explore differently, transforming luxury cruises into ocean journeys.
Goboony is a Netherlands-based market-sharing platform that is changing the way people hire campers, caravans, and motorhomes by facilitating RV and caravan owners to rent out their vehicles to other camp enthusiasts.
Left empowers people to travel purposefully and make the world a better place as a travel technology company. The company leverages technology, marketing, and automation to increase the benefits and decrease the downsides of travel so everyone benefits from traveling the “right” way.
Prior is a travelers' club with a library of one-off experiences, journeys, events, and parties across the globe. It provides personalized planning and tailors itineraries according to members' preferences, handling logistics and unlocking access to coveted accommodations, dining experiences, fiestas, and more. It identifies what is unique and authentic about a place and weaves this through every moment of a journey.
STI Corporate Travel is a corporate travel agency that focuses on offering the best experience for business travelers at the lowest cost. The company designs business travel solutions that streamline the traveling process while ensuring productivity and tight control of travel expenses.
A UK-based company, Swoop Travel helps thousands of people each year travel to some of the world's most remote and dramatic landscapes, focusing on Patagonia. With over 15 years of experience and a vast partner network, Swoop Travel plans customized trips that are tailored to travelers' goals, budgets, and appetites for adventure.
Travel Innovation Group encompasses three complementary travel technology companies that use innovative technology to offer fares to travelers and groups on behalf of over 50 global airlines. It is the overarching company of flight consolidators Aviate and Lime and travel technology provider Calrom.
As the world recovers from the pandemic and both business trips and vacations become more popular, the travel & hospitality industry is poised to grow considerably. If your firm wants to take advantage of the many private and bootstrapped investment opportunities, a deal sourcing platform like SourceScrub can help you find the perfect target company, including travel tech startups.
Get a jumpstart on your research. Download our list of the top 50 fastest-growing travel & hospitality companies.