Why a group of hotel investors is backing this hospitality startup

The tension between hotels and the online travel agencies that spread their product far and wide has been there since the early days of the internet.

In the beginning most of the big hotel brands were happy to go along for the ride but recently many have sought to wrestle back control.

It’s no surprise then to see a startup promising to offer the holy grail to attract significant backing from those with a big stake in the hotel industry.

Hotelverse, a Spain-based travel tech startup, has raised a €1 million second-round of funding from backers including Aurelio Vázquez, senior director asset management at Blackstone-owned Hotel Investment Partners, Raúl González, CEO EMEA at Barcelo Group, Sabadell Venture Capital, the venture capital division of Banco Sabadell and the real estate investment firm Stoneweg.

The capital raised will be used to adapt the company's commercial structure to the current demand and the scalability of the product after the growth of recent months. It is currently working with 150 hotels and aiming to grow to 1,500 hotels by 2023.

The latest round follows a €1 million initial raise earlier this year. Hotelverse wants to add a third round of €3 million early next year.

What is Hotelverse?

The central premise of Hotelverse is the 3d recreation of an individual hotel space. The idea being that consumers can select their own individual rooms, which the hotels have priced accordingly.

Hotelverse claims that hotels are able to increase their web conversion rate by 60% and increase the average cart value by encouraging the purchase of additional services and incentivizing the booking of higher quality rooms.

Hotelverse’s product has the potential to be another string in the bow of the big hotel brands when it comes to driving up direct sales. Like with loyalty programmes, this would be another thing that consumers in theory couldn’t get by going to Booking.com or Expedia.

The company was started by two former Iberostar directors: Rafael Bover and Fermín Carmona Fernández. It currently employs around 40 people and is expected to double in size by the end of the year.

What they said

Aurelio Vázquez, senior director asset management at Hotel Investment Partners, said: "Both founders have a wealth of knowledge at this time of such a specific issue as improving profitability through disintermediation processes and through revenue improvement processes. I believe that they have clearly marked a path to success and I am fully convinced that we will soon see this tool in the vast majority of hotel chains."

Rafael Bover, co-founder and COO, said: "The business plans for the company include a short-term internalization. Currently we are already present in the Caribbean and we plan to cover new markets such as the United States and Greece in the coming months, on the other hand, we plan to be present in Asia next year."