AI-based travel platform startup WhereTo raises $8 million in Series A funding
WhereTo, an AI-based travel platform that simplifies and improves business travel planning for corporations and their employees, has raised $8 million in Series A funding, led by Emergence Capital. WhereTo is an AI-based smart business travel booking startup that inspires and empowers today’s corporate travelers with an AI-based travel experience.
The solution is the industry’s first intelligent business travel platform that searches across dozens of channels for the best prices, and allows corporations to easily adjust pre-configured algorithms to meet their business objectives, generating real time, complete trip recommendations that balance cost against convenience and user preferences. The platform allows users to input their actual meeting location or business name rather than city or airport, allowing the algorithm to factor in real time commute conditions in making the flight and hotel recommendations.
Founded in 2016, the San Francisco-based WhereTo leverages proprietary artificial intelligence to balance dozens of factors, including company policy, in order to recommend the optimal hotel, flight, or car for a given trip. Ultimately WhereTo is enabling enterprises to save an average of 30% on their travel expenditures, while reimagining the corp travel experience.
Led by CEO and founder Ryan Wenger, WhereTo currently has a team of 20 engineers, data scientists, designers and business executives. Before raising its A Round from Emergence Capital, it raised a Seed Round from 500 Startups, celebrity Rob Dyrdek, and Stage Venture Partners. Its Seed funding helped build WhereFor.com, the first search engine to determine where a person could travel for how much they wanted to spend based on real-time flight and hotel prices.
In the enterprise today, more than 38% of company employees refuse to use their corporate booking tool because it’s time-consuming, cumbersome, lacks customization and severely restricts options. WhereTo eliminates those employee objections and improves the traveler’s experience with a proprietary algorithm that customizes recommendations for factors such as traffic, real-time commute conditions, price, quality, and loyalty accounts. Unlike most corporate booking tools, WhereTo conducts real-time searches of all available hotel, flight and car options based on each company’s objectives rather than fixed corporate policy. Booking can be completed in seconds with just three clicks, reducing time-to-book by 75%.
“WhererTo is a win-win for both employees and travelers and is destined to change the face of corporate travel,” said Joe Floyd, Partner, Emergence Capital. “It makes corporate travel managers heroes by giving their users a modern, delightful experience while also saving their companies money. In fact, one of the things that most impressed us was how WhereTo customers were seeing immediate ROI with better travel prices and higher traveler satisfaction. We’re delighted to be partnering with Ryan and WhereTo.”
WhereTo evolved from a consumer travel platform, WhereFor, which was the first travel search engine to recommend destinations based on a person’s travel budget, along with real time flight and hotel prices. In 2016, WhereFor.com earned over 2 million users, one of whom was the travel director for a Fortune 10 company, who contacted WhereFor to ask if the algorithm could be customized for corporate travel. Based on the learnings from that corporate partnership, WhereFor developed a patent-pending algorithm, reconfigured its consumer offering for business use, grew from three employees to 20, and launched WhereTo.com.
“Traditional online booking tools waste significant time and money,” said Ryan Wenger, CEO of WhereTo. “They inundate users with hundreds of options but no guidance on which travel options are the most convenient or logical. The last thing a busy employee will do is take the time to find the flight with a quick layover or a hotel a few blocks further from the meeting—even though the savings may be massive. WhereTo’s algorithm quickly guides users to those non-frivolous but still convenient options. It’s designed to appease the roadwarrior and CFO alike.”
WhereTo provides unprecedented flexibility and support to corporations and travelers. Companies can select a preconfigured algorithm, aligned with their travel guidelines, to search for the best flight, car and hotel choices. If desired, different versions of the algorithm can be employed for certain departments and people. Employees have the freedom to choose any of the travels options determined by real-time data and the company’s parameters that are within a recommended budget. Companies that wish to provide greater flexibility also have the power to allow employees to book options above the budget, and monitor this behavior in a monthly overspend report.
WhereTo offers its own global 24/7 travel agency available by both phone and chat. Support includes a large team of multi-lingual agents as well as partnerships with agencies and technology companies around the world to offer local pricing, invoicing, and support in 23 countries. This global infrastructure is ideally equipped to serve family owned companies as well as Fortune 100s.