With its $930 million acquisition of business-to-business travel software provider TravelClick, private equity firm Thoma Bravo is showing that it’s more than just venture capital firms that are interested in the travel business.
The private-equity firm, with offices in San Francisco and Chicago, is buying TravelClick from Genstar Capital and Bain Capital Ventures, which had put the company on the auction block earlier in the year, according to a Reuters report.
New York-based TravelClick sells a complete suite of hotel management software applications as a service. The company sells its software to 37,000 hoteliers worldwide.
As we’ve reported, technology investors are increasingly interested in the hotel business these days. Investors have funded travel-related startups in over 40 different countries since 2009, according to CrunchBase data. While the U.S., U.K., and China lead the way in total number of travel investments, emerging markets are seeing their fair share, as well, from Hotel Urbano’s recent $50 million Series D round to seed rounds in Kenya-based SafariDesk and Colombian startup Escapar.
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That financing hasn’t escaped the notice of TravelClick’s chief executive Larry Kutscher. “I probably track 50 or 60 [startups]. I watch what they’re doing and try to learn from what they’re doing and then I make sure my products compete well with them.”
For Kutscher, startup companies in travel are introducing interesting products for hoteliers, but not the total solutions that he said TravelClick provides. “There’s lots of activity, and the beauty of it is that the hotel area is a growing profitable space, but what those companies are lacking — what they don’t realize — is that the hotel business is a high-relationship business. We have hundreds of sales people over the world who know the hotels.”
In fact, TravelClick has over 300 employees in its “go-to-market” organization, and the company expects to have revenue north of $300 million in 2014.
At the time of its acquisition by Genstar in 2007 from Bain Capital, TravelClick’s recognized clients included the Ritz London, Accor Hospitality, The Palms South Beach, Banyan Tree Hotels, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, Harrah’s, The Kahala Resort, La Quinta Inns and Suites, Loews Hotels and Trump Entertainment Resorts.