Travel isn’t just for the big players anymore.
Hopper, the app launched in 2015 that predicts the cheapest time to buy a plane ticket, raised about $61.8 million in a Series C round announced Thursday. The Canadian company reported that amount as $82 million in Canadian dollars.
That puts the nearly 2-year-old app up against Priceline, Expedia and all the other major players in air travel. Hopper only has a mobile app, and doesn’t plan to move to desktop.
The Series C round was led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a pension fund manager.
Hopper scans billions of airfare price quotes to predict flight prices with what it says is 95 percent accuracy. If you set up an alert for a trip you’re planning to take, Hopper will tell you what price would be a good deal and whether you should wait or book now. Then the app will send you a push notification when it thinks you should book, which you can do within the app. Ninety percent of the app’s sales come from push notifications, rather than from users searching.
Hopper went from 1 million to 10 million downloads in the past year and expects 30 to 50 million in 2017.
“We’re in the growth phase that Uber and Airbnb hit a few years back to build a global business,” Hopper CEO Frederic Lalonde told Mashable.
The app, available on iOS and Android, is adding more features, like a way to plan travel between friends. If two friends live in different cities, the app will tell them the best time to visit each other or suggest deals for destinations in the middle. That feature works internationally, whether it’s friends in New York and India meeting in Dubai or friends in Boston and Seattle meeting in Chicago.
Although Hopper’s app only launched in 2015, the company started building its business long before that. The startup raised its first seed funding in 2007, according to Crunchbase, and raised a total of $33 million before this week’s additional $61 million.
The company plans to use this funding to continue to scale its growth and accelerate its international expansion by setting up mini-travel agencies with at least a physical address and local bank presence in the more than 120 countries it sells tickets to and from.
And the app is set on beating the big-name players in air travel.
“This is a consolidated category. The players have been around for 20 years doing this,” Lalonde said. “The fact that we passed these guys on mobile should not be possible.”
The app’s competitor isn’t one particular travel site, Lalonde said. Instead, Hopper is competing against you opening your laptop at all instead of just using your phone.
Soon Hopper plans on offering personalized deals. An airline that knows you’ve been watching a trip to Europe, for example, could send you a push notification through Hopper offering a deal designed to get your business in particular. The company is also considering adding hotels and other categories outside of airfare.
“We see a world where the majority of what we sell will be recommended by an algorithm,” Lalonde said.