Toronto-based SnapTravel has raised $28 million CAD ($21 million USD), adding $17 million CAD ($13.2 million USD) in new investments to its initial raise of $10.5 million ($8 million USD) in July 2017.
New investors include Telstra Ventures—the venture arm of Australia’s largest telecom company—and NBA player Stephen Curry.
SnapTravel’s platform allows users to book hotels through conversations with an AI-based travel assistant. SnapTravel curates personalized hotel offers over SMS, voice, and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Since its founding in 2016, SnapTravel has had conversations with over 2 million consumers in over 150 countries to date.
“Online hotel booking is an incredibly transactional and noisy process, where pop-ups and expiring offers inundate consumers,” said co-founder and CEO Hussein Fazal. “We are reimagining this experience – making booking hotels feel as natural and personal as talking to a friend. Beyond travel, we’re at the start of a shift in which consumers no longer shop on individual websites or apps, but entirely via conversations with brands.”
The funding will be used to further enhance the user experience, namely by continuing to develop SnapTravel’s machine learning and NLP technology. “We are always evaluating other lines of business in the travel space (flights, car rentals, tours and activities), and will execute on the opportunity when the time is right,” Fazal said in a statement to BetaKit. “For now, we are focused on investing in our AI and NLP technology to build a great hotel booking experience over messaging.”
SnapTravel is one of Facebook’s preferred partners on Messenger and Whatsapp, though the platform is also available over SMS, iMessage, RCS, Viber, Slack, and Alexa.
“Conversational commerce is an area of immense opportunity and interest for us, and the level of consumer adoption that SnapTravel has achieved in this space so far is extraordinary,” said Liron Wand, head of partnerships, messenger at Facebook. “This is not only a unique approach to booking hotels, but also a new outlook on commerce as a whole. We’re partnering with SnapTravel to create seamless experiences for Facebook users today, and design what message-driven commerce looks like in the next five years.”