Lodgify, the Barcelona-based SaaS for property owners to manage vacation rentals, today announced it has secured $5 million in Series A funding.

Existing backers Nauta Capital, Howzat Partners, and a number of angels participated, in addition to new investor Intermedia Vermögensverwaltung. It brings total funding for the Spanish startup to $7.3 million.

Primary pitched as a way for property owners to grow their direct vacation rental bookings, as opposed to solely relying on platforms like Airbnb or Booking.com, the Lodgify SaaS enables the creation of a mobile-friendly website for each property. Crucially, this includes the ability to accept online bookings and take payment.

“Just like Shopify became the decentralised platform for businesses by democratizing access to e-commerce technology, Lodgify is empowering lodging operators with direct channel technology,” the company’s co-founder and CEO Dennis Klett tells me. “That allows them to build their own booking channel to generate more direct bookings”.

To help support this, Lodgify is attempting to fully automate the booking workflow for hosts: from booking management, to guest communication, to payment scheduling and refunding in case of refundable cancellations. “All these steps basically run on autopilot, empowering our hosts to be instantly bookable and eliminating time-consuming tasks for them,” Klett says.

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As part of these efforts, the company is keeping an eye on the development of crypto currencies and “smart contracts”. Perhaps somewhat optimistically, Klett says this would allow for “self-executing and risk-free bookings”.

He is also bullish on the potential for direct bookings to continually grow, noting that a number of vacation booking sites, such as Housetrip, Roomoroma and 9flats, have either consolidated or disappeared over the last couple of years.

“The direct channel is emerging to become a significant channel on par with the two to three major online travel agencies left in the market,” says Klett. “Since Lodgify’s primary product focus is on direct channel technology, we have been able to help our customers to significantly grow their share of direct bookings. This will remain our primary product focus for the coming years”.

That’s not to say Lodgify is ignoring Airbnb and Booking.com entirely. The startup’s software also supports both sites via “advanced API integrations,” making it easy to manage listings and for hosts to use Lodgify as a true multi-channel platform for direct and indirect bookings.

Meanwhile, I’m told Lodgify will use its Series A funding to scale the team, which now stands at 50 people, and to accelerate product development and increase marketing efforts globally. The company also recently hired Alex Vuilleumier as COO. He was previously a Director of Marketing at Expedia Group.

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