This was the year of the travel IPO with 10 market debuts. But at least 10 more travel companies are likely to go public in 2022. Investors, despite disappointing Covid setbacks, continue to bet on the long-term strength of the travel industry.
This year set a record for travel companies going public or announcing they will go public, setting up 2022 to be another banner year, too.
In 2021, a half-dozen companies had traditional IPOs. In the following chart, “cash to balance sheet” is our estimate of how much money went to the company after shareholders, debts, and other items were paid.
Another trend in 2021 was a surge in the popularity of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). Skift began the year alerting readers to what these blank-check companies were and why they would be popular in 2021.
Three travel companies merged with blank check companies and went public this year.
The froth represented a broader boom in initial public offerings. This year, more than 300 operating companies have gone public in a traditional IPO or direct listing in the U.S. markets, by far the most of any year since 2000, said Jay Ritter, a professor of finance at the University of Florida who studies IPOs.
“Close to 200 have gone public by merging with a SPAC,” Ritter said. “Combining these numbers, the number of operating company new listings is the highest of any year since 1996.”
In the travel sector particularly, seven companies announced that they had agreed to merge with blank check companies to go public. But several of the companies postponed their market debuts apparently because of the late-year surprise of the Omicron variant. For example, Wynn Resorts abandoned in November its plans to take its online gaming platform public via a SPAC at a $3.2 billion valuation.
Here are the seven SPAC mergers announced in 2021 that are now likely to lead to market debuts in 2022. The first likely to come is Sonder, which filed documents on December 23 suggesting it may go public as soon as January. The following table’s “expected cash to balance sheet” represents estimates about gross proceeds expected to stay with the company and are subject to change.
A few travel companies filed with regulators in 2021 to go public via traditional initial public offerings. These market launches are expected in 2022.
Skift is watching a handful of other travel-sector companies for possible initial public offerings in 2022.
Virgin Atlantic has reportedly been in talks to go public.
A handful of travel-and-transportation-focused special purpose acquisition companies continue to hunt for companies to merge with. Accor’s SPAC listing is targeting businesses in lifestyle, leisure, and adjacent sectors. (See: “Accor May Use SPAC to Own Real Estate While Still Trumpeting Asset-Light Strategy.”)
Traveloka, Indonesia’s travel unicorn, had on-again-off-again talks to go public via a blank check company in 2021. An initial public offering of the online travel agency in 2022 seems quite possible.
Getaround, a car-sharing startup and Turo rival, was reportedly in talks to go public through a merger with SPAC, Altitude Acquisition Corp., run by corporate travel agency Teplis Travel CEO Gary Teplis.
In short, 2022 could be a bonanza for investors betting on the travel sector.