Duffel Reinvents the Infrastructure Behind Online Travel Booking

Duffel team in London
  • Tech company enables new generation of travel with a developer-friendly platform
  • Raises $30M Series B round led by Index Ventures
  • Existing investors Benchmark and Blossom also joined the round bringing Duffel’s total capital raised to $56M

Duffel, the British travel tech company, has raised $30m from investors to launch its innovative new booking platform with some of the world’s biggest airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa Group, Aegean Airlines, Vueling, Iberia.

Duffel enables travel agencies to plug in directly to airlines’ reservation systems via an API so that they can pull real-time flight offers, make bookings, access live seat availability, and buy extra services. Until now, new digital and mobile travel agencies – Duffel’s target market – have been forced to put up with long lead times and high costs to access clunky flight booking systems, legacy APIs and outdated, cryptic screens. By giving agents a way to connect instantly with airlines, Duffel represents the biggest shakeup of the travel sector since the launch of budget air travel.

Index Ventures, the backers of Adyen, Dropbox and Slack, led the Series B round, and were joined by existing investors Benchmark Capital and Blossom Capital.

Just as fintech companies are connecting the fragmented world of payments and finance, Duffel brings together airlines so travel agents can swiftly assemble an end-to-end experience for their clients. Online and mobile travel companies, including corporate travel bookers, are able to see live seat availability from the world’s biggest airlines, as well as additional offers on in-flight meals or luggage allocations.

Steve Domin, co-founder and CEO of Duffel, said: “A new breed of online agencies want to access reservation systems quickly and seamlessly. By reinventing the underwiring between online agents and airlines we can transform the world of travel booking and reduce barriers to entry for innovative new companies that are offering travellers a whole new way of creating a holiday or trip.”

Why travel industry needs shaking up

Travel and tourism accounted for more than 10% of all global economic activity in 2018. The sector is also the second largest spending category for companies after payroll. Yet the booking experience hasn't improved since the first wave of travel startups such as Expedia and Kayak. Consumers now visit dozens of websites before completing a booking, and a majority of business trips are still booked via email or on the phone.

New online travel agents are emerging to make the process of booking a trip less fragmented. But it remains difficult for them to access airline data, navigate the regulatory landscape and create packages that meet their clients’ expectations – mostly because of the inadequate APIs that they currently have to work with. Duffel enables agents to build their integration in just a few hours and sell flights to consumers the next day.

Industry support for innovators

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association for the world’s airlines, is working on a programme that is addressing the industry’s current distribution limitations. IATA has created an industry standard, known as New Distribution Capability (NDC), which transforms the way air products are retailed through the use of modern XML technology. Duffel is working closely with IATA at the forefront of this initiative, which has the potential to do for travel what open banking did for financial services.

Jan Hammer, partner at Index Ventures, said: “We are incredibly impressed by the Duffel team, who we have supported since the days of their seed funding. There is an opportunity here to transform the booking experience for travellers and ease many of the pain points in the industry. From the launch of budget airlines to sharing economy businesses like Airbnb, travel has changed and Duffel will provide the tools, built from the ground up, that make the next wave of innovation possible.”

“One of the objectives of the NDC standard is to foster innovation and competition in the distribution landscape. Duffel represents both, and we identified them as a key player in the marketplace as they can contribute to accelerate volume growth, in particular by connecting new types of sellers,” said Olivier Hours, Head Industry Distribution Programs Adoption, IATA.

Duffel will use the new funds to hire more engineers and increase its broader team. It is focusing on expanding in North America and Europe, with its first customers drawn from the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Spain.

About Duffel

Founded in 2017, Duffel is rethinking travel from the ground up. Its platform allows online and mobile travel agents to connect directly with airlines’ reservation systems, providing a new booking infrastructure to the next generation of online and mobile only travel agents that are transforming travel. Find out more at www.duffel.com.

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Published — Oct. 28, 2019