Tour booking software startup Xola scores $5M Series A led by Rakuten Travel

Xola, a software platform that manages booking and marketing for tour providers, is venturing deeper into international markets after closing a $5 million Series A. The funding was led by Rakuten Travel, Japan’s largest online travel agency, which contributed half of the round.

Rakuten Travel is a unit of Rakuten, the largest e-commerce marketplace in Japan. The company also has operations throughout Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, which San Francisco-based Xola can leverage as it seeks international growth.

In particular, Rakuten Travel will serve as Xola’s strategic partner as it enters the Japanese market, co-founder and CEO J. Scott Zimmerman told TechCrunch in an email.

Xola’s cloud-based software lets small travel companies take bookings online or through mobile apps, and manage payments, scheduling, marketing, and communications with customers. The company was launched in 2011 and has now raised a total of $6.8 million. Its last round was back in 2014, when it got angel funding of $1.8 million.

The company claims it has averaged 500 percent growth over the last two years.

While Xola is up against several other tour booking software platforms designed for small businesses (rivals include Rezdy, Rezgo, Checkfront, and Bookeo), Zimmerman says his company competes by making its user interface simple and offering round-the-clock customer support.

“Xola was among the first flagship booking systems to integrate with resellers like Viator,” he told TechCrunch in an email. “We invested a lot of resources in building a robust API architecture to support complex integrations and applications to be built on top of our platform. Years later we see the entire industry moving in this direction and we intend to stay at the forefront of innovation in that domain.