MagicStay, a B2B alternative accommodations rental platform dedicated to business tourism, recently announced that it was able to earn EUR 1.5 million (US$1.86 million) in its latest fundraising round. Originally called MagicEvent when it launched in 2014 catering to MICE participants and organisers, it has grown to offer 150,000 short-term residences across 90 countries in the past four years.
Contributions to the pot came primarily from the startup’s shareholders: Michaël Benabou, Vente-Privée.com co-founder; Benoit Bassi, Bridgepoint partner and founder; Patrick Lucas; Nicolas Quenedey; and Charles Petruccelli, former American Express CEO for global business travel. New investors also stepped in, including Marc Frappier, Eurazeo managing partner and Eurazeo Capital head; Thibault Basquin, Ardian managing director; and Nicolas Santi-Weil, AMI Paris CEO.
Funds to scale up IT development, lodging offers
MagicStay says it will use this investment in part towards improving its proprietary Weezard booking platform, available in SaaS mode for travel managers to use. The startup continues to tweak and boost the first reservation tool for apartments and alternative residences even as it pushes its services across existing channels, such as self-booking tools and travel management companies.
Valéry Linÿer, MagicStay CEO and co-founder, revealed that the funds would also let the company push for more accommodation options in France before entering the world market at the end of 2018. He also bared that it was coming up with an extended stay and mobility product that would allow consultants, expatriates and other travelling professionals to rent from anytime between a month and a year.
“Companies lack a user-friendly and comprehensive tool to manage accommodation for their executives on the move,” Linÿer said. “We will further expand our offer to be a global player and meet the demands of our customers.”
This is MagicStay’s fifth fundraising initiative. It generated angel investments in late 2013, with a seed round accelerating its growth outside of France in late 2014. Its 2015 funds, also EUR 1.5 million in sum, allowed it to develop Weezard, a free-to-use Travel Manager Tool, and its own e-concierge service app. Its 2016 fundraiser yielded the TRUSTAY® data protection and security policy, which evaluates MagicStay partner spaces for the benefit of business travellers while granting insurance coverage and a 24/7 helpline to both renters and property owners.
Linÿer shared that earning the trust of corporate clients has been strategic to MagicStay’s success. It has existing agreements with Société Générale, NextRadio, Quicksilver, Havas Voyages (which also offers MagicStay accommodations listings through its own platforms), CDS, iAlbatros and H-Résa, and it has expressed that it is courting more partners.
“After the travel managers, we managed to convince the security, IT and legal directors of major groups of the relevant service we provide to traveling employees, and to the company guaranteeing their safety.”
MagicStay uses sharing economy resources in order for companies to book secure apartments, studio rooms, villas and condotel units based on the comfort, safety and facility requirements of their employees. It says its lodgings are affordable, private, and allow for colleagues or family members to share space with the tenant originally listed. Its mobile app, currently available only in Paris, offers e-concierge services such as breakfast delivery, room service, laundry, airport transfers, restaurant bookings, and even hiring photographer or translator services among others.
The startup also provides travel agency solutions enabling partner agencies to directly book for their clients online, with end-of-the-month invoicing and a dedicated back office included; corporate solutions helping large companies make booking and account invoicing arrangements; a loyalty card which earns points from every reservation made; and event solutions providing professional event organizers with a corporate event website dedicated to their needs.
MagicStay is a member of GBTA France and the travel startup coalition Alliance Biz Travel. It won the Silver Medal for Best E-Commerce Newcomer from FEVAD and Le Journal du Net in 2014, the Laurier BtoB Business Travel Award in 2015, and the Innovation Award – Business Travel from Echo Touristique in 2017.