Kambr Raises $ 4 Million to Help Airlines Manage Online Bookings

  • Advertising and media veteran Jason Kelly co-founded a new startup called Kambr that wants to change the way airline analysts handle flight prices and inventory.
  • The startup plans to create revenue management software that major airlines can use to monitor how people buy airline flights and help them compete with online travel agents.
  • Ultimately, Kelly said the goal is to create an advertising technology product that helps airlines target potential customers with advertisements.
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Former publicity manager Jason Kelly is keen to change the way airlines handle reservations and operations.

Along with co-founders Martin Kaduc, Michael Peters and Chris Anthony, Kelly is launching the Kambr startup today and announces $ 4 million in seed funding. Venture capital firms Founder Collective, Global Founders Capital, Studio VC, Silicon Badia, C2 Ventures Capital Partners and TXV Partners participated in the round.

Kambr wants to sell software to major airlines that helps them compete with online travel agents. Specifically, Kambr wants to help with a practice in the airline industry called revenue management that airlines use to monitor when and how people book flights.

Airlines typically hire analysts specifically to review the data to see which sites and to what extent consumers are booking travel. Using the data, an analyst can decide to charge $ 100 for a seat one week and $ 500 for the same seat a month later.

But revenue management is a big deal for traditional airlines that don’t have the same kind of sophisticated technology that online travel agents do. An Expedia study found that consumers visit travel websites 38 times before making a reservation.

According to Kelly, the software that airlines use today, like Pros and Saber, was created before the online travel industry took off. As airlines seek to catch up with online travel agents like Google Flights, Hopper, and Expedia, Kambr plans to build and deliver software to major airlines. He said the software will use artificial intelligence technology, but will also be designed for use by analysts.

Kelly did not name any clients, but said Kambr’s business would be based on a software-as-a-service model that charges airlines a monthly fee. According to a study by Forrester Research, the online travel industry will represent a market of $ 1,000 billion by 2023.

“The tools available to airline analysts were not designed for a modern environment,” Kelly said. “You can’t just switch to fully autonomous artificial intelligence capabilities to handle all of the [an airline’s] inventory – there is human and IT interaction that needs to evolve. “

Kambr has 22 employees and plans to double its workforce over the next year, Kelly said.

Kelly says airline problems are similar to marketers’ challenges

Prior to Kambr, Kelly held executive positions in advertising and media companies including Time Inc., Millennial Media, LiveIntent, and Laundry Service. He was also director of revenue for AdMeld before Google acquired it.

While Kelly rode the online advertising wave throughout his career, he worked for airlines like Frontier Airlines and Virgin America in the 90s and 2000s and said he always wanted to work in aviation and that there were parallels between the airline and advertising industries.

“It’s something I’ve really worked on my entire professional life,” Kelly said.

Just as airlines struggle to get consumers to convert, advertisers also struggle to deliver relevant ads to consumers.

Kelly said Kambr plans to eventually roll out an ad technology product that helps airlines target consumers with advertisements, similar to the existing demand-side platform technology that advertisers use to buy programmatic advertisements.

“It’s absolutely on our roadmap – I’ve managed both demand-side and supply-side platforms so that the technology is very familiar to me,” Kelly said. “It won’t launch in 2019 or 2020 but that’s what customers are asking for.”

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