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Lodgify raises €1.4M to let vacation rental owners take direct bookings and jump on chatbot bandwagon

TechCrunch TechCrunch 20/04/2016 Steve O'Hear

Barcelona-based Lodgify, which offers website builder software to enable vacation rental owners to build their own branded website and accept online bookings, has raised €1.4 million in funding.

The round is led by Nauta Capital, with participation from existing investors Chris Hitchen, HOWZAT Partners and Roland Zeller. It brings total funding to €2 million, while the new capital will be used for product development, including a foray into chatbots, and to increase Lodgify’s sales and marketing efforts.

“We want to help vacation rental owners and property managers generate more direct bookings and become less dependent on online travel agencies like Airbnb and Booking.com, that typically charge high commissions and traveler fees,” explains CEO and co-founder Dennis Klett.

“The problem is that most vacation rental owners do not have a bookable website, even though 92 per cent of travellers prefer to book a vacation rental online. This results in, on average, 9-10 days of email ping pong before a booking actually takes place and payment is received.”

To address this, Lodgify offers a Software-as-a-Service that enables vacation rental owners to easily create their own mobile friendly website, including, and most crucially, the ability to accept online bookings and process payments.

With new investment, Klett says a next focus for the startup will be chatbots, which offer another way to cut out the middle person and generate more direct bookings.

“We are also strong believers that Facebook Messenger and chatbots in future will be a great new opportunity for owners to receive direct bookings and bypass the big online travel agencies,” he says.

“We are focusing on messenger and chatbot supported communication with booking functionality to drastically speed up the booking process and enhance the owner renter relationship. The renter should not need to ever leave the messenger interface prior and during the stay.”

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