Israeli social booking startup inks deal with Spanish hotel chain

Joyned’s booking software lets travel website users invite friends & family to a live chat, in which all of them see the site’s content to organize and book their vacation

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Team at Israeli startup Joyned in Jerusalem. (Nir Slakman/Courtesy)
Team at Israeli startup Joyned in Jerusalem. (Nir Slakman/Courtesy)

Israeli startup Joyned, a developer of software allowing travelers to socially interact and chat with friends and family to jointly plan and make online bookings, has clinched a second deal this month with Spain’s hotel chain RIU Hotels.

As part of the commercial partnership, RIU Hotels will deploy Joyned’s social booking software as a tool for customers across its US online booking sites. The Spanish chain has over 100 hotels across 20 countries.

The development of Joyned’s travel booking software emerged out of the growing trend of online social shopping and the fact that people rarely travel alone. The Jerusalem-based startup has developed a social booking tool letting users of a travel website or app invite their friends and family to a private on-site space such as live chat in which they see the site’s content and travel options so that they can choose, plan and book trips together with the click of a button instead of sending them links and screenshots.

“Trends driving the demand for our service are the growing demand for personalized travel experiences, the need for mobile and digital connectivity in trip planning and booking, the importance of social sharing and collaborative decision-making in travel, and the desire for seamless booking and travel experiences,” Joyned founder and CEO Jonathan Abraham told The Times of Israel in e-mailed comments. “Joyned aims to address these trends by offering personalized recommendations, social booking elements, and mobile-friendly interfaces.”

“This significantly reduces the time and dilemmas involved in the booking process,” he added.

As Joyned’s platform lets users stay on a site and invite friends and family to book travel in real time, online travel agencies using the software tool have seen their sales go up and traffic increase.

Joyned co-founders Michael Levinson and Jonathan Abraham (left to right). (Doron Letzter/Courtesy)

“Joyned is bringing in new organic traffic, resulting in an average 4x conversion rate and significantly higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). Additionally, our solution improves site performance by 10-15%,” said Abraham.

In early May, Joyned inked a deal with Spanish travel booking tech giant Amadeus. As part of the commercial agreement, Joyned’s social booking software tool will be made available to the online travel agencies and digital travel companies that Amadeus works with globally. In 2019, the Amadeus platform helped connect over 1.9 billion people to local travel providers in over 190 countries.

Founded in 2017 by Abraham and CPO Michael Levinson, Joyned has raised about $7 million in capital from investors such as Arthur Stark, former President of Bed Bath & Beyond; entrepreneur Yair Goldfinger, founder of Dotomi and ICQ, the first internet chat app; and Rafael Ashkenazi, Managing Director at Hard Rock Digital, and former CEO of The Stars Group. Over the past year, the startup has doubled its workforce and currently employs 17 people.

The deal comes as Israeli travel tech companies have enjoyed some attention in recent months as the travel industry appears to have bounced back with significant growth after being severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Korea’s online travel booking app Yanolja said earlier in May that it is buying Israeli travel tech firm Go Global Travel to expand its travel and hospitality offerings and boost its global footprint.

Yanolja will be acquiring Go Global Travel through its cloud arm Yanolja Cloud, an AI-based cloud solutions provider for the hospitality and leisure industries, for an undisclosed sum. Yanolja Cloud is buying Go Global Travel from Mid-Market Israel (AMI) Opportunities Fund, which is advised by private equity firm Apax Partners. Back in 2017, AMI Opportunities Fund, led by Zehavit Cohen, purchased an 80% stake in Go Global Travel from its founders Nino Tager and Natalie Dekalo.

Earlier this year, Canadian travel tech company Plusgrade snapped up Israeli startup UpStay, a developer of a fully automated tech platform for hotel upgrades, and will open an R&D center in the country. UpStay’s system uses AI algorithms that send data-driven and personalized special offers to hotel guests to entice them to make room upgrades or additional add-on purchases prior to their arrival and throughout their stay.

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