July 22, 2010, 4:02 PM

Mobile tech company Movitas raises $3 million

Movitas raises $3 million to expand its mobile platform for the travel industry.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

Movitas announced this week it has received $3 million to build on the mobile content creation and delivery system it markets to travel and hospitality companies.

The funding, from a group of private investors, comes a little more than six months after Movitas purchased mobile advertising company PhindMe LLC and its Everywhereigo mobile content management system for an undisclosed sum. Since the acquisition, Movitas has landed several clients including Choice Hotels International, which franchises more than 6,000 hotels, and Kohler Resorts, which operates two hotels in Kohler, WI, and one in St. Andrews, Scotland.

The extra millions will help Movitas compete in a mobile market with entrenched competition.

 

The mobile travel market has been on fire for awhile, with a steadily increasing number of airlines, hotels, rental car agencies and other players building mobile sites and apps. Unlike other areas of mobile commerce, such as retail and event tickets where many vendors provide systems and services, travel is dominated by a handful of mobile technology providers, most notably Usablenet Inc., which has more than three dozen travel company clients ranging from Travelocity and American Airlines to Hilton Worldwide and Dollar Rent a Car.

The funding is one sign that Movitas is stepping up its game. Another was the acquisition of PhindMe. “We acquired it for the technology and the team,” a Movitas spokesman says. “We had an opportunity to integrate PhindMe's publishing and messaging technology into the Movitas mobile hospitality solution and team up to go after hospitality together.”

Movitas says its technology provides the correct formatting for many types of phones. This means twice as many people have mobile web access to the apps than if the company only targeted consumers with smartphones such as the iPhone, Movitas says. For the most robust experience, including the ability to set travel preferences, a guest can create a user account, the spokesman says.

Movitas says it plans to use the funds to expand on tools to help its clients generate additional revenue. The company recently introduced enhanced mobile advertising, m-commerce and cross-selling functions. While it does provide m-commerce capabilities, for now it typically sells add-on features. For example, guests can book a dolphin excursion at Dreams resort in Cancun though the Movitas service.

“We are focused on strategies that go beyond the other providers in the space, who are just attempting to add a mobile channel to existing revenue,” the spokesman says. “We also do the mobile channel extension play with e-commerce integration and mobile concierge, but we go beyond that to drive incremental revenue.”

For a hotel, this could mean using the platform to market under-utilized amenities such as a spa that might be empty on a sunny day at the beach. Other examples include selling and promoting marketing excursions for groups of guests staying at an all-inclusive resort, or generating revenue by selling ads for local tours or merchants. The unsold inventory or other amenities are promoted to guests segmented by the preferences they choose with they create an account.

Additionally, Movitas says its apps can allow guests to chat via a mobile device with members of their party or group, or even with the family at home. Other possible features include games such as scavenger hunts to market and promote products.   

Prices for Movitas range from free for three mobile pages and 10,000 monthly mobile page views to $99 per month for the Enterprise edition, which includes unlimited mobile pages and system integration maintenance.

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