Small-and-midsize-enterprise-focused travel management provider Lola has shuttered its services, according to a notice on its website citing “new things to come” for the company, which less than three years ago made a major splash by inking an exclusive partnership with American Express Global Business Travel.
GBT reports that Lola’s operations have ended for corporate clients. They can now use Amex GBT’s Neo1 SME travel management and expense spending platform to replace them. Originally launched in the United Kingdom last year, Neo1 expanded to the U.S. in July.
Lola published a notice signed by the CEO and CTO of the company, Mike Volpe. They promised “exciting news regarding the next phase”, but did not give any further details. Lola didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment.
Launched in 2016 by Kayak co-founder English, Lola garnered significant attention in its early years, racking up more than $80 million in investment funding along with the landmark 2018 Amex GBT tie-up. But the company was hit hard by the shutdown of corporate travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic, announcing in March 2020 that it would lay off 34 employees—nearly one-third of its workforce.
In a bid to diversify its offerings amid the slowdown in travel, Lola in October 2020 rolled out a new corporate spending and expense management tool dubbed Lola Spend, which was built on the same platform as its travel management product, but could operate on a standalone basis.
The shutdown of Lola comes less than a month after another onetime darling of the SME and lightly managed corporate travel segment, Upside Business Travel, also met its demise, citing the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Established TMCs are eager to help SME-oriented travel management startups, despite the challenges that face them due to the Pandemic. Amex GBT in particular has been keenly focused on growing its SME business, citing that goal as a key driver of its planned acquisition of Egencia, along with the expansion of the Neo1 platform to the United States.