Booking travel online is just awful. I recently booked a trip to Texas and I had so many different tabs open, trying to find the best deals on plane tickets and hotels that my computer nearly has a stroke. So any website that can make that process easier is a-ok in my book.
Meta-search travel site Hipmunk says that it can do just that and now it has raised a $20 million Series C round of funding, the company revealed on Friday. The round was led by Oak Investment Partners, along with Institutional Venture Partners, Ignition Partners and existing angel investors.
Hipmunk had previously raised a $1 million Angel round, a $4.2 million Series A led by Ignition Partners and a $15 million Series B led by Institutional Venture Partners. Some of its notable angels include Ashton Kutcher, Rich Barton, Simon Breakwell, Erik Blachford, Paul Buchheit, and the Webb Investment Network.
With this round the company has now raised a total of $40.2 million in total funding. In addition the new funding, it was also announced that Ren Riley, general partner with Oak Investment Partners, will be joining the board of directors at Hipmunk.
Launched in 2011, Hipmunk helps people save time and money by comparing top travel sites to show the perfect flight or hotel at the cheapest price.
"We’re eliminating the agony involved in travel planning. With Hipmunk, there’s no need to search through pages and pages of results, because we present the most convenient first," Adam Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of Hipmunk, told me.
"There’s also no need to toggle between several tabs to compare prices because we do that for you in one place where you know you’re getting the best deal."
Unlike some of the company's biggest competitors, like Kayak and Skycanner, Goldstein says that Hipmunk has "an awesome user experience and the widest selection."
He cited the user experience on the site, which he said was a "simple visual presentation," where flight results are filtered by “Agony,” which is a combination of price, duration and number of stops. Users get a single page of search results with the most convenient listed first so they don’t have to scroll through 20 pages of results to find what they want, he explained.
Hotels are filtered by “Ecstasy,” which he said, "is a combination of price, number of stars, and location." The results are shown on a Heatmap so users can see areas with the highest concentration of food, shopping, tourism, nightlife, or “vice."
In addition, Hipmunk is cross-platform service, which means that a user can log in on one device and continue their search on another.
The company will use the new funding to accelerate that cross-platform strategy, as well as for hiring, customer acquisition, and partnership efforts.
"Now is a unique moment in the travel industry. There’s been a general awakening that mobile hotel bookings are here to stay. But mobile and hotels aren’t the entire story: in the next five to 10 years the winners in the next generation of travel will be the companies that can do the best job serving users for all their needs across all screens," Goldstein said.
"Our plan is to increase our lead in product and selection across all platforms. We also have some exciting partnerships to announce in the coming year."
While the San Francisco-based Hipmunk does not share its number of users, Goldstein said the company seen six times growth across all mobile platforms, with 10 times year over year growth on iOS alone, in 2013.
In the end, he said, the goal of the company is to alleviate the pain that comes with booking travel online.
“When I was an engineering student at MIT, I also was on the debate team. I was the guy who booked all the travel, and I spent a lot of time searching for flights, hotels, trains, and more. It was frustrating and time-consuming," Goldstein told me.
"So I started Hipmunk with the goal of eliminating the agony that comes along with travel planning. Most of our competitors spent their careers in the airlines/hotels/travel industries. We build what users want, not what the industry wants."