Freebird expands corporate travel presence with $5m. in new funding

Freebird expands corporate travel presence with $5m. in new funding

TravelWireNews update:

 

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. – Freebird, a company dedicated to improving traveler experience, announced additional funding from venture capital investors General Catalyst and Accomplice, as well as travel industry angel investors, to accelerate expansion in the corporate travel market. Freebird is a mobile solution that empowers travelers to skip the line and instantly book a new ticket after a flight disruption – for free, on any airline, with only three taps on their mobile phone. Freebird helps business travelers and corporate travel managers save time and money by streamlining the rebooking process and improving traveler experience.

Reflecting industry demand for better flight disruption solutions, Freebird also signed new partnerships with six Travel Management Companies (TMCs) – Altour, Options Travel, Safe Harbors Business Travel, Short’s Travel Management, Travel and Transport, and Upside Travel – who join Casto Travel and Flight Centre Travel Group (USA) as official Freebird resellers. Freebird’s partner TMCs collectively manage more than $6 billion in annual total travel spend for their respective corporate clients.

“Travel and Transport is dedicated to staying ahead of the curve in terms of technology, customer care, and operational efficiency. Our corporate clients want mobile solutions like Freebird to help get them to where they need to be during flight disruptions,” said Kevin O’Malley, President and CEO, Travel and Transport, Inc. Founded in 1946, Travel and Transport is one of the largest travel management companies in the U.S.

This $5M round of funding is co-led by General Catalyst and Accomplice, venture capital firms with deep expertise in travel, bringing total funding to $8.5M. These two firms also led Freebird’s initial $3.5M round in November 2015. Other travel investments at General Catalyst include Airbnb, ITA Software, Kayak, Lola, and Sabre; and at Accomplice include eDreams, Hopper, KDS, RocketMiles, and Secret Escapes.

“Freebird is really onto something,” said Joel Cutler, Managing Director at venture firm General Catalyst and a frequent investor in the travel space. “Interruptions in air travel are more common than any of us like. Freebird’s ability to detect problems and create instant alternatives is gaining great traction with TMCs and their corporate clients. It’s easy to see how the service becomes a must-have for anyone looking to take the hassle out of their travels.”

Freebird also received strategic angel investments from current advisors Scott Hintz, co-founder of TripIt, and Mitch Gross, former CEO of Mondee, former Global President of Travelex Insurance Services, and former President of Galileo Americas; as well as from new advisor Ellen Keszler, former President of Travelocity Business, former President of GetThere, and current board member at PROS, Routehappy, Sojern, and Travel and Transport. Kurt Ekert, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit and former CCO of Travelport, will continue to serve as a Freebird advisor.

“As corporate travel programs adopt more traveler-centric mobile tools, Freebird provides an attractive solution to the multi-billion dollar pain point of flight disruptions by integrating directly into TMCs systems, providing turn-key solutions to corporations, and significantly improving the traveler experience during disruptions,” said Ellen Keszler, Freebird investor and advisor. “I am excited to bring my corporate travel expertise to Freebird as a formal advisor.”

“We are thrilled to announce both a new round of funding from existing investors and six partnerships with world-class TMCs to make flight disruptions less painful for everyone in corporate travel,” said Ethan Bernstein, Freebird co-founder and CEO. “My co-founder Sam Zimmerman and I are excited to grow our already strong team in Boston and unlock the value of Freebird across the corporate travel market.”

Freebird for Corporate Travel
Freebird integrations require no development work and leverage existing TMC workflows and systems to make it easy for TMCs to offer corporate clients a seamless flight rebooking experience. Freebird enables TMC partners to streamline center operations, increase supply economics, and be more consultative to clients.

Freebird protection is applied automatically to specific travelers, travel groups, trip types, or geographies, as selected by the corporate travel manager, and does not rely on employee adoption. Rebooked flights can be made from specific inventory via the TMC, so duty of care is maintained and negotiated rates and supplier credits are applied.

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