JetBlue invests in market intelligence startup Transparent

Spain: JetBlue Technology Ventures [JTV], the venture capital subsidiary of American low cost airline JetBlue Airways, has announced its investment in vacation rental market intelligence company Transparent, which will bring its total funding to date to $2.8 million.

The investment will allow Transparent to continue to expand its commercial team and aligns with JTV’s investment theme of ‘reimagining the accommodation experience’. It also extends to support the subsidiary’s broader goal of positioning JetBlue with startup-led innovation.

In recent years, the airline has expanded to become a full-fledged travel brand.

Transparent builds and maintains a platform that aggregates data on vacation rental market conditions including prices, occupancy and competition.

The startup was founded in 2016 by travel entrepreneurs Pierre Becerril, Nil Sanz and Drew Patterson, with the mission of helping property managers, real estate investors, online travel agencies and tourism boards make informed decisions within the vacation rental space. Since then, the company has aggregated millions of anonymised reservations and indexed more than 36 million listings globally to help thousands of users make sense of the rental industry. 

Ryan Chou, investment associate at JetBlue Technology Ventures, said: “Given JetBlue’s interest in offering short-term rental options to its customers and the travel industry’s recent demand volatility, accurate data is imperative to making sound business decisions. Our investment in Transparent not only provides us with valuable insight in the short-term rental market, but also a partnership with one of the leading startups in the vacation rentals space.”

Transparent estimates that the rental industry will generate $75 billion in gross booking value in 2021. The company has built an authoritative intelligence platform for the industry’s market participants, allowing them to analyse forward-looking rates and occupancy, understand demand drivers, monitor competitors and analyse travellers origins and patterns.

Clients and partners include Amadeus, Booking.com, Four Seasons, Marriott, Hopper, the Hawaii Tourism Board, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, and hundreds of others institutions globally.

Transparent co-founder and CEO, Pierre Becerril, said: “One in every three beds available to travellers in the US are hosted in a vacation rental as opposed to a traditional hotel. As travellers’ appetite for this type of accommodation grows, there is a need for business intelligence tools to help market participants make informed decisions on pricing, investment and strategy.

“During Covid-19, 25 per cent of bookings occurred in short-term rentals, accelerating a long-term shift toward this form of accommodation. JTV’s interest in our company is a reaffirmation of the vacation rental industry having moved out of the shadow of the hotel sector to emerge as a major player in the travel and hospitality ecosystem in its own right,” he added.

Prior to JTV, Transparent had previously raised funding from Madrid-based K Fund, NYC-based Highgate Ventures and Paris-based Kima Ventures. 

JetBlue Airways announced its plans to diversify its travel product offerings into short-term rentals back in November, with an unnamed partner from the industry, although their identity remains unclear.

Under the proposals outlined by JetBlue Travel Products president Andres Barry at the time, the company would provide rental accommodations through its own brand, and operate customer service in-house rather than outsourcing.

It represents the company’s first venture into accommodation offerings, beyond its vacation packages brand JetBlue Vacations and other travel verticals such as car rentals, ride-sharing, cruises and travel insurance.

Barry added that its potential short-term rental brand would be carefully curated and branded under the JetBlue’s exacting standards.

JetBlue’s shift towards short-term rentals and related verticals is expected to accelerate throughout 2021, with Barry predicting that revenue generated from JetBlue’s non-flight products could top $100 million by 2022.