Have you ever looked longingly at the website of a posh hotel or resort and thought, “Man, I wish I could hang out there.”
Well, thanks to startup ResortPass, that might not be as out of reach as you might think.
The six-year-old company gives people the option to purchase day passes to more than 900 hotels and resorts — think Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, W Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Fairmont and Westin — around the world. With the passes, users have access to amenities such as pools, spas and fitness centers without having to shell out the big bucks to actually stay overnight.
ResortPass itself serves as a marketplace, teaming up users with hotels and taking a cut of each booking. As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have eased and people are eager to make up for lost time, the company says it has seen a surge in business, with a 100% increase in gross booking volume so far in 2022 compared to 2021. In other words, it has doubled its number of users.
The startup works with the properties to help determine prices, which generally reflect the level of service and amenities that a hotel offers. For example, a day pass to access a pool can range from $25 to $100 per adult, depending on the hotel. Children generally pay less, or are free.
Beyond its marketplace offering, ResortPass has also built SaaS software to make it easier for the hotel industry to support day guest access. The rationale is that ResortPass provides a new revenue stream for these hotels, by giving them a way to allow for more guests — on a per-day basis. In fact, ResortPass claims to have delivered over $1 million in new booking revenue to “many” of its individual hotel partners. Since inception, the startup says it has teamed up 1.6 million guests to its partner hotels. While it’s free for hotels to join ResortPass, many do subscribe to its access management and booking software tools, which also can give overnight guests the ability to book amenities on the premises.
ResortPass currently operates mostly within the United States — in 35 states, including Florida, California, New York, Hawaii, Oklahoma and Arizona. But it’s seeing such good traction in recently entered markets outside the U.S. such as the Caribbean, Mexico and Puerto Rico that it plans to eventually further expand into new geographies such as Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. To fuel that geographic expansion, ResortPass is announcing today that it has raised $26 million in a Series B funding round co-led by Declaration Partners and 14W, bringing its total raised to $37 million. Early backer CRV also participated in the financing, along with new investors such as William Morris Endeavor, Adam Grant, celebrity entrepreneurs Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba, and Brian Kelly, also known as The Points Guy.
Also investing was Airbnb’s syndicate, AirAngels. This makes sense, considering both Airbnb and ResortPass have aimed to create new markets out of underutilized inventory.
New York-based ResortPass is also announcing today that Michael Wolf — who previously worked at ClassPass, Supernatural and Lululemon — has assumed the role of CEO. Amanda Szabo founded ResortPass in 2016 and served as its chief executive until late in the third quarter. As the company has grown, Szabo decided that it would benefit from having a leader with extensive experience in working with marketplaces to help it scale. She will serve in an advisory capacity moving forward.
“She [Amanda] was a 0 to 1 person,” Wolf told TechCrunch. “I’m a one-to-many person. And, I was impressed with how the company had built a really strong business without a lot of capital.”
He added: “It’s genuinely the most excited I have been about a company having worked across dozens of startups.”
Geographically, in the short term, ResortPass is looking to expand “more completely” throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean.
“We’re seeing incredibly strong performance from our hotels outside the U.S.,” Wolf told TechCrunch in an interview. “Some properties in Puerto Rico are among the top performing hotels in the entire system.”
Longer term, ResortPass will add additional overseas markets such as Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as more hotel partners.
Interestingly, the majority of ResortPass’s users are locals who want to experience the amenities of hotels in their own or nearby cities. “Our local users never had the opportunity to access the hospitality industry locally,” Wolf said. “They thought they had to get on a plane to enjoy those sorts of amenities.”
Travelers who stay at an Airbnb in a city for the extra space but still want access to amenities such as a nice pool or fitness center represent another segment of ResortPass’s customers. Another popular use case are cruise passengers who dock in a city and want to be able to access a nice property just for the day, or get off of a cruise ship well before their flight and don’t want to sit in an airport all day.
When booking users, Wolf says ResortPass aims to “emulate the normal operating flow of a hotel” so that the guests simply blend in.
The “vast majority” of ResortPass’s users come across its offering through word of mouth, according to Wolf.
With its new capital, the company plans to beef up its team across all departments, including sales, marketing, product and operations. Presently, it has about 50 employees — 20 of whom are engineers. ResortPass is not currently profitable, but Wolf says the company’s user growth is reflected in nearly all of its business metrics.
The company had previously raised about $11 million, including $9 million in a Series A that was announced in August of 2019. Wolf declined to reveal at which valuation this latest round was raised, saying only that it was done “at over 2.5x the valuation of the last round.”
Via email, CRV General Partner Saar Gur noted that his firm led ResortPass’s seed and Series A rounds based on its belief that the company “delivered a unique and delightful experience to consumers, while adding significant incremental profits to their hotel partners with no additional cost.”
14W’s Ryan Ackell is also naturally bullish. “ResortPass is pioneering a whole new segment of the $1.5 trillion global lodging industry,” she said in a written statement. “By creating this opportunity for hotels and guests, ResortPass is aligning the industry with how people are choosing to take time off with shorter, more frequent experiences closer to home.”