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Cabana, a Travel-Tech Startup Merging Vanlife With Boutique Hotel Comfort and Built for Social Distancing

Cabana, a new travel-tech startup that is reinventing how people travel through its customized fleet of comfortably-equipped campervans, recently closed a $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, Vice President Ford X at Ford Motor Company, also invested in the round.

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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 travelers enjoy at home. “We have built mobile hotel rooms that are designed around the traveler to provide both comfortable and customized accommodation and transport,” Scott explains. “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 travelers both a comfortable mobile hotel room and unique experience that meets their needs.”

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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 sanitized between guests for optimal cleanliness.

“Ideas that utilize 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,”  said Travis VanderZanden, founder and CEO of Bird. “Cabana fits squarely within this theory and provides travelers a new way to experience and explore destinations that might not otherwise have been available to them while also avoiding carbon-emitting flights.”

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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 travelers. 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,” says David Sacks, co-founder and general partner of Craft.  “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?”

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