Meet Impala, a London-based startup that wants to make it easier to interact with hotel data. The startup is building a layer on top of legacy hotel systems to standardize everything with a modern REST API.
And Impala has just raised an $11 million Series A funding round from Stride.VC, Xavier Niel/Kima Ventures, Jerry Murdock, the partners of DST Global and existing investors. The company had previously raised a $1.75 million seed round.
Essentially, Impala wants to be as simple as Stripe, Twilio or Plaid. With a few lines of code, any developer should be able to get started with Impala before diving deeper.
If you’re not familiar with the tech stack of the hotel industry, hotels use Property Management Systems to manage rooms, room types, pricing, extras, taxes, etc.
“One of the reasons it's necessary is that hotels never replace that underlying system (ever) and so there's no incentive for those old systems to build open APIs (even if they could),” co-founder and CEO Ben Stephenson told me.
Developers working on products in the hotel industry currently have to build a ton of integrations to connect to all the different hotel systems. Impala wants to do the same work once and for all, and standardize the API for anyone building services on top of hotel systems.
In other words, if you want to know how many standard rooms are left in different hotels, you can query those hotels using the same API call. It becomes much easier to manage one or multiple hotels, and build apps, websites and internal services that interact with a hotel system.
With today’s funding round, the company wants to build more integrations with hotel systems. It currently supports 8 different systems, but universal support will be key when it comes to making Impala the universal language of the hotel industry.
Impala is also working on a direct booking API. Right now, many hotels manually upload booking data to Booking Holdings websites (Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, Kayak…) and Expedia Group websites (Expedia, Hotels.com, HomeAway, Trivago…), or use a channel manager.
Those channel managers act as middlepersons that send information to multiple websites at once. “The problem with this is that if you and I wanted to start a new online seller tomorrow, we would have to connect to all of the different channel managers,” Stephenson said.
A direct booking API would lower the barrier to entry for Expedia and Booking competitors. It would also open up possibilities for new types of players who don’t necessarily sell hotel rooms today. You could imagine being able to book a room directly from a city guide website, a conference website or a music festival app.
It wouldn’t be a Booking.com embed, it would leverage Impala’s direct booking API to book directly with the hotel, which would lead to reduced commissions.