Emerging Travel Group (further – “the Company”), an international online travel group that operates in over 100 source markets with brands RateHawk, ZenHotels, and Ostrovok, has closed a $10M financing round led by technology entrepreneur Lev Leviev of LVL1 Group and the family office of Playrix co-founders, Igor and Dmitri Bukhman. The investment aims to accelerate the development and further international expansion of the Group.
The Company’s B2B Brand, RateHawk, launched in 2016, is an online hotel-booking platform designed for travel professionals. The platform provides access to more than 1 million accommodations worldwide through its API and web product. The Group sources its inventory – hotels, apartments, and hostels from 85 suppliers worldwide and 29,000 direct hotel contracts. RateHawk is used by over 9,500 travel professionals in Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Africa. The Company employs business development staff in 28 countries. The site is available in nine languages – English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, and Russian.
RateHawk’s turnover grew by over 300% in 2018. Last year, the service started operating in 21 new markets: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
The Company plans to more than double its international staff to scale RateHawk and to continue its investments in technology.
Felix Shpilman, Emerging Travel Group’s CEO, commented: “We are excited to scale RateHawk, our fast-growing global B2B service. RateHawk has demonstrated strong traction in all of its 28 launched countries and we continue to open new markets by deploying local business development teams. We intend to focus on the product, localization, and customer support to make RateHawk the default booking engine for any travel professional worldwide.”
Lev Leviev, who will be representing investors on the Company’s Board of Directors, commented: We are very impressed with the company’s traction. B2C maintains its leading position in the local market while B2B continues its fast growth across many regions. The Company has a clear strategy, focus, and solid execution capabilities to unlock further growth and value.”
For Western and Southern Europe:
RateHawk plans to hire commercial team of 50+ managers with a focus on business development. The Company plans to establish business relationships with 10,000+ partners over the next 12 months (a penetration level of ~25-30% of the B2B travel market in each country).
For Central, Eastern and Northern Europe (the Baltic States, Balkans, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia):
RateHawk plans to strengthen its team with an additional 25 employees in 20 countries to develop and maintain its positions in the region. Over the next year, RateHawk intends to sign up 6,000+ partners (a penetration level of ~45% of the B2B travel market in 20 countries).
For North America (the USA and Canada):
RateHawk will enter the region by establishing two commercial teams: one in the USA and one in Canada to secure simultaneous development. It plans to add 3,000+ partners to its portfolio in the region within one year.
For the Middle East (Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Turkey):
RateHawk intends to strengthen its presence in this region and open a headquarters in Dubai. The Company plans to triple its current number of partners within the next 12 months in the Gulf Cooperation Council markets (reaching over 1,700 partners in total). As for Turkey, RateHawk will double the existing team and triple the number of partners to sign up 2,500+ travel professionals.
For Asia (Singapore and Malaysia):
RateHawk plans to enter the region with a team of ~5 commercial managers and will focus on Singapore and Malaysia. Within a year, RateHawk plans to sign up a portfolio of 1,500+ partners.