• Tue. Jun 14th, 2022

Real-time flight rewards search engine point.me raises $2 million to scale its travel tool – TechCrunch

Based in New York Dot.me, the creators of an online research tool that makes it easy to discover reward theft options in real time, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by PAR Capital Ventures. The tool, now out of beta, searches routes on more than 150 airlines to uncover reward travel options that the company says would have been hard to find otherwise. The site also provides information on how to maximize your airline miles and points.

Point.me CEO and co-founder Adam Morvitz told TechCrunch that the startup was created based on his personal experience booking flights. In 2011, Morvitz was traveling frequently, earning plenty of credit card points and airline miles along the way. As a financial consultant for much of his career, Morvitz says he enjoyed researching the best flights he could find using his points. When his co-workers started asking him how he got business class flights to Europe for a few thousand points, he saw the opportunity to start a business. That same year, Morvitz launched Juicy Miles, a concierge reward flight booking service.

As the company grew to 60 agents, Morvitz knew they needed a way to instantly search all loyalty program options instead of performing manual searches. This led to the creation of point.me in 2019, which Morvitz co-founded with longtime friend and travel expert Tiffany Funk, who previously held executive positions at luxury travel blog One Mile at a Time and advice service PointsPros. To build their metasearch engine, the duo rimagined the possibilities of displaying point flights in an easy-to-prepare way.

Point.me is compatible with over 30 loyalty programs, including many credit card reward programs. Customers can filter search results by program, airline or route to find the best offers available, which will be tailored to their preferences and point balances. The website offers a variety of services, including access to its self-service search tool, a full-service price concierge, and elite status and credit card advice.

The company’s standard plan costs $129 per year and includes unlimited searches, personalized results, access to rewards offers and tips for replenishing your points. Point.me also has a premium plan that costs $260 per year that includes everything in the standard plan, plus a 10% discount on all concierge services, a personalized annual miles and points check feature, and Moreover. The company also offers a starter pass for $5 that gives users access to the standard plan for 24 hours.

Picture credits: point.me

“Before point.me, customers had to manually search individual airline loyalty programs to find flight options they could book with their points, which meant a lot of time, frustration and often only got a tiny fraction of the actual value of their points,” Point.me co-founder and CMO Tiffany Funk told TechCrunch. “Once you’ve selected a flight, you’re taken to one of the things we’re most proud of, our comprehensive and incredibly detailed booking instructions. Again, the interface isn’t complicated, but we tell you exactly how many points you need to transfer, and then our product team has created these step-by-step flows that really walk you through everything.

With this new funding, point.me plans to continue expanding its product line and improving search engine capabilities, which will require a more in-depth engineering team. The funds will be used to hire frontend and backend engineers to help improve the core product. The startup will also hire additional customer service agents to improve the customer experience.

WndrCo Holdings invested in the round, with participation from former DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dropbox Business founder Sujay Jaswa and former DreamWorks Animation president Ann Daily. Skinnygirl founder and CEO Bethenny Frankel and her fiancé, real estate executive and film producer Paul Bernon, are also investors in point.me, along with David M. Baggett and Carl de Marcken, co-founders of ITA Software (which is became Google Flights after its acquisition).

Looking ahead, Morvitz says point.me will focus on adding a variety of new features to the service. The company plans to display the cash price of the flight you’re interested in, so you can see an immediate comparison of the value you’re getting for the miles. Point.me also wants to allow users to search for multiple days of flights at once. And he plans to focus on personalized recommendations and results, while suggesting alternatives that would help customers have a better flight experience.

“Longer term, we believe we can fundamentally change the loyalty space from a consumer and business perspective,” Morvitz said. “The combination of our proprietary technology with our unique body of knowledge enables a world where finding points is easy, transparent and valuable for everyone in all global loyalty currencies. Our vision for panoint me goes beyond research. We aim to become the go-to site for loyalty management, using our investment in data to improve the experience of our customers and corporate partners, including AI-powered algorithms to highlight redemptions that customers are most likely to book and using predictive technology to recommend which rewards have the best chance of being available.