Hotel API platform Impala has raised raises $20 million in Series B funding.
Its CEO and co-founder Stephenson, 31, taught himself to code as a teenager in Middlesbrough.
After dropping out for family reasons, he set up a web design company which was eventually tasked with building an app to for a travel company to connect to its partner hotels.
The experience would become the inspiration for Stephenson to create Impala, which allows apps of any kind to integrate with hotel systems.
Via the Impala platform, any app developer interested in allowing its customers to see hotel room availability, pricing and features, by connecting to existing hotel Property Management System.
The platform uses robotic process automation (RPA) to access data from hotels’ system, allowing it to capture more information about individual rooms, and bring it together in one place in the cloud.
It also allows travel agencies to search by square footage, the presence of a bath or whether the room has a view.
The London-based firm is now 33 strong, and has employees based in the UK, Ireland and France and has snapped up senior hires from flight comparison app Skyscanner, Booking.com, and FinTech lender Klarna.
Ben Stephenson, Impala CEO and co-founder, likened the firm’s API to open banking in the financial sector.
“The hospitality sector needs solutions that are smart, responsive and can ‘talk’ to the world outside – unlike the siloed, old-school operating systems they’re saddled with at the moment,” he said.
“By democratising access to hotel data, Impala will fundamentally change the way people book hotels and interact with the places they stay. We want to become the rails on which hotel travel runs.’
The firm is targeting a slice of the 6.3bn bookings which are made at hotels every year, generating an approximate $600bn for the hotel industry in 2018, by allowing apps to side-step commission fees.
If a hotel wants to offer information about its rooms to a travel agency or technology company, it must pay around $25,000 to open up its data -Impala said – on top of which they then must pay commission fees per booking.
Investor Lakestar has previously backed travel and holiday firm such as AirBnB, GetYourGuide, and HomeToGo.
Lakestar partner Christoph Schuh, said: “Impala has the potential to become an important layer for the future of travel, a trillion-dollar industry.
While the firm is currently focused on companies that only need to ‘read’ the hotels’ data, the new funding is to be invested in providing the ability to book directly via its API.
The firm said the new feature will ‘revolutionise’ the potential for cross-selling hotel rooms via specialist travel agencies, niche publishers, search engines and eCommerce sites.
Julian Rowe, partner at Latitude Ventures, added: “Online travel was one of the earliest mass use-cases of the internet – yet the underlying infrastructure supporting it has barely evolved.
“Impala will enable hotels to establish deeper, more personalised relationships with travellers, helping them become better businesses. At the same time, Impala can support competition and unlock a new level of customer experience. Travellers stand to benefit hugely.’