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Cabana, merging vanlife with boutique hotel comfort and built for social distancing, secures funding

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Investment accelerates the expansion of Cabana’s tech-enabled fleet of upscale custom-made mobile hotel rooms, using 2019 Ford Transit vans, to travellers looking for a modern vacation option that offers the freedom to travel

Cabana, a new travel-tech startup that is reinventing how people travel through its customised fleet of comfortably-equipped campervans, recently closed a US$ 3.5 million seed funding round led by Craft Ventures, a San Francisco firm that makes early-stage venture investments. Goldcrest Capital, Travis VanderZanden, CEO & founder at Bird, and Sunny Madra, VP Ford X at Ford Motor Company, also invested in the round.

Scott Kubly, Cabana’s founder and CEO, established the company last year to enable unique travel experiences that offer a greater sense of freedom complete with the comforts and amenities travellers enjoy at home. Scott explained, “We have built mobile hotel rooms that are designed around the traveller to provide both comfortable and customised accommodation and transport. Trips and vacations are inclusive of two key elements – the travel to the destination and the destination itself. We are tightly integrating the two by providing travellers both a comfortable mobile hotel room and unique experience that meets their needs.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a new reality and amplified the public’s uncertainty about what future travel looks like. As people have become acquainted with the comforts of home and togetherness with their loved ones and families, Cabana is extending that experience to people’s ability to enjoy a weekend adventure – whether an urban overnighter to a nearby city, visiting an open state or national park, or both – while still practicing appropriate social distancing. Cabana has also established a detailed regimen to ensure that every van is adequately sanitised between guests for optimal cleanliness.

“Ideas that utilise existing infrastructure and satisfy a previously unseen or emerging consumer need are often the genesis of companies that can establish and lead a new industry. Cabana fits squarely within this theory and provides travellers a new way to experience and explore destinations that might not otherwise have been available to them while also avoiding carbon-emitting flights,” said VanderZanden.

This round of funding is driving Cabana’s manufacturing efforts so it can scale its operations, and offer its services to more people looking for modern travel alternatives – the company’s fleet of luxe campervans was first offered to people in the Seattle area in the fall of 2019 and has plans to launch in new markets later this year.

Cabana’s tech-enabled mobile hotel rooms also facilitate a seamless digital experience for travellers. Booking, check-in, check-out, vehicle pickup, and authorization are all completed through the Cabana app, available on iOS and Android.

Heightened interest from investors signals the growing shift of consumer preferences when it comes to new modalities of travel and recreation. David Sacks, Partner, Craft Ventures explains that now, more than ever, consumers are looking for modes of travel that allows them to control their own social distance while also letting them embrace the wider world.

“Cabana gives people an ideal combination of freedom, comfort, and convenience. Despite the societal upheaval of the last few months, the human desire to travel and explore remains unchanged. Why shelter in place when you can shelter in paradise?” said Sacks.

Kubly, former Lime executive, and Seattle transportation official, established Cabana in 2019 to bring people a more convenient travel option that combines both transport and luxe accommodation. Since the company’s founding, Scott has worked with a small team in downtown Seattle to maintain Cabana operations and build-out its fleet of “mobile hotels.”

Cabana opens up the flexibility of travel plans so that travellers can book once and go anywhere. The company has built out a fleet of upscale custom-made mobile hotel rooms, using 2019 Ford Transit vans, to give travellers the freedom to travel and sleep where they want and when they want. Every element, from the bed to the storage, to the bathroom to the internet, is designed from the ground up for a tailored and premium experience. Simplified lodging often translates to lower quality, but Cabana has taken the luxurious amenities of a thoughtfully designed suite and outfitted it for a small space.

Enabled through tech, Cabana brings l digital convenience and peace of mind through contact-free check-in. The app lets travellers reserve, check-in, pick-up, and check-out of their mobile hotel room without having to make a pit stop to the front desk.

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