The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on business travel. Countries closed their borders and employees had to get used to doing business with the help of Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls.
While 2020 and 2021 has been challenging, business travel startup TravelPerk has survived the pandemic; in fact, it has thrived.
TravelPerk CEO Avi Meir wrote in a blog post: “2021 was an incredible year at TravelPerk. The coronavirus crisis brought our entire industry to a literal standstill, and we took that as an opportunity to reflect both on our own business and on what our industry would need in the future.
“We made it through that time without conducting any layoffs. We built products that would make business travel better, safer, and more sustainable.”
On top of acquiring four companies, TravelPerk has now added $115 million to its April 2021 $160 million Series D round. This means the business travel company is a unicorn worth $1.3 billion.
The latest influx of capital came from General Catalyst – and specifically Joel Cutler, an early investor in AirBnB and Kayak – as well as Kinnevik and Gillian Tans, former chairwoman and CEO of Booking.com. Cutler and Tans will now join TravelPerk’s board of directors.
Meir attributed TravelPerk’s success to “our aggressive and brave approach”, which pushed “our investors continue to place their trust in us.”
IRL collaboration is here to stay
Central to TravelPerk’s funding is its belief that the future of work won’t be video calls. The company’s “future is defined by the simple fact that human connection matters”, according to Meir.
“We believe in the value of face-to-face interactions, Human beings are social creatures. It’s in our very nature, and it’s pretty basic biology.
“The bursts of creativity, energy, and compassion that we share when we get together in person simply can’t be replaced by digital mediums. No, Zuck, the metaverse isn’t a good replacement for real human interaction.”
Cutler commented: “Hybrid and remote working is undoubtedly here to stay, but a Zoom call will never be able to replicate the benefits of in-person, face-to-face interaction. We have no doubt that business travel will continue to grow and thrive in the years ahead, with TravelPerk as the clear leader in the space, and we’re thrilled to be participating in this funding round.”
But since COVID-19 isn’t the only crisis facing the world currently – the earth is warming at an alarming rate, and we are truly in a climate emergency – TravelPerk is laser focused on ensuring that business travel in the future is sustainable.
The future of TravelPerk will see it double down on green tech and take its sustainability expertise to the next level. The company already helps its clients – examples include Workable, SumUp, Glovo and Revolut – to offset their carbon footprint with VERA-accredited projects.
Watch this space if you’re also keen to return to business travel, albeit a more sustainable version.
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