Travel search has moved on from the days of one website digging up the cheapest rates. Sites like Hipmunk are showing that the biggest players are going to be the ones that dig up the most information and display it in an easy-to-understand fashion.
One such company, hotel metasearch engine Room 77, is drawing the eyes of some big investors, including Expedia. The company announced Thursday that it has raised $30 million in a Series C round that included new investor, Expedia, as well as existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Concur Technologies, Felicis Ventures, as well as Expedia’s founder Rich Barton, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, and Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.
Jim White, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures, joins the company’s board of directors with this round.
Hotel bookings in the online travel industry see some $165 billion a year in gross billings, and while Room 77 isn’t releasing any numbers at the moment, it does say that’s driven hundreds of thousands of room nights through its marketplace, and it has a repeat booking rate of more than 50%.
It’s easy to see why users like it. A quick search for a hotel in Manhattan turns up hundreds of results, each of which is broken down by price according to which service you choose to go through. For example, you can book a room at the Lexington Hotel for $126 if you go through Room 77, $138 if you go through Reserve Travel, $141 if you go through Booking.com, and so on. And results are in real-time, so they change as other travelers book up rooms.
You can also filter your search for special rates (AAA, seniors, military, etc.), distance from a neighborhood, star rating, user rating, and popular freebies (wi-fi, breakfast, etc.).
The company says that it has uncovered at least one lower price for customers in two out of three searches, according to an international analysis of more than five million hotel searches.
“We believe metasearch is an increasingly important model and complementary to our travel transaction businesses,” said Expedia President and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, in a statement. “The level of innovation and depth of content at Room 77 excites us about its future role in this important customer acquisition channel.”
The company says it plans to use the new capital from this round to hire top talent, expand into new markets, invest in product, beef up engineering and room-level content, and ramp up marketing.