Katanox raises $5.7m to unlock stifled growth in corporate travel

Katanox raises $5.7m to unlock stifled growth in corporate travel

Amsterdam-based firm says industry gatekeepers hold the sector back

Amsterdam-based hospitality distribution and fintech specialist Katanox has raised $5.7 million seed funding to unlock growth stifled by existing middlemen in corporate travel.

Investors backing the firm’s bid to overhaul B2B distribution include Rappi and Yuno co-founder Juan Pablo Ortega, co-founder of fintech Dimebox and current co-founder and chief executive of Founda Jan Joost Kalff, and founder of iTesso Bas Blommaart.

The seed funding comes as senior vice president of Expedia Media Solutions Rob Torres joins as a non-executive director. 

Torres, who has over 20 years of experience in travel will be working with Katanox’s founding team to develop partnerships with global hotel brands.

He said: "I am very excited to grow my relationship with the team and apply best practices from the programmatic advertising industry for B2B distribution in hospitality. The Katanox team is building an intriguing set of solutions to bring transparency that's needed for the open distribution era.”

Katanox says its platform addresses the $150 billion corporate travel market by “streamlining and improving the distribution of travel accommodations, which has historically been controlled by OTAS, GDs and bedbanks.

Founder Mendel Senf said: "Out of necessity, we've seen many advancements and improvements in the travel sector spurred on by technology and digitalisation. However, when it comes to lodging, it's the safe middle men who are controlling the market and stifling growth. 

"We're bringing much needed change to the market by putting power back in the hands of accommodation providers by empowering them to control their own destination via the Katanox platform."

The seed round will be used to focus on international expansion and invest in development of the platform and integrations with Central Reservation Systems, Property Management Systems and Payment Service Providers.

Kanatox said: “Global hotel chains are under severe pressure as a result of the slow COVID recovery of corporate travel, and are actively seeking to replace the expensive GDS and wholesalers because connectivity and contracting between them and the business travel agencies are too expensive.

“Katanox brings together travel accommodations so travel sellers like Travel Management Companies (TMC) can assemble an end-to-end experience for their corporate clients. Giving them data streaming access and availability to directly search, book, pay and modify their booking at any time. 

“On top of that, Katanox will introduce financial services like price freeze, travel now pay later, cancel/change fees as new revenue opportunities to both partners in the platform. Platformisation is a proven model from fintech and other industries to radically cut costs and boost innovation through direct partnerships.”

The firm claims the hospitality sector is lagging behind aviation which is implementing initiatives like New Distribution Capability and Billing and Settlement Plan which are bringing in modern standards.

“The pandemic made it utterly clear that B2B distribution in hospitality is dictated by gatekeepers such as the GDS and OTA duopoly, held back by archaic software solutions and conditioned by monotonous pay-out providers like virtual credit cards.”

Katanox is a global remote first company with a base in Amsterdam and is hiring in engineers, business development and sales professionals to its team based around  the globe in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Istanbul, Los Angeles and Mexico City.