- Group ride start-up Swoop won a contract with the NFL to provide transportation for the 2022 Super Bowl in Los Angeles, including shuttling guests to the field and providing VIP transportation, CNBC has learned.
- Travel companies, including ride-hailing and chauffeur services, have been among the hardest hit over the past year by the coronavirus.
- With the end to the pandemic in sight, chauffeured transport companies are on the upswing.
Group transportation and software-as-a-service start-up Swoop won a contract with the NFL to provide rides for the 2022 Super Bowl in Los Angeles, CNBC has learned, as large-scale events are once again in sight.
The company will provide transportation leading up to, during and following the Super Bowl. That could include transporting executives, NFL personnel and other people to pre-game events and team transportation to and from SoFi Stadium. The deal, completed March 31, could be worth more than $1 million, Swoop co-founder Ruben Schultz said Thursday in an interview.
"It's huge for the company and also really big for the industry. During the pandemic, this was another industry that was overlooked a bit. If you do event or group transportation, people weren't looking for it," Schultz said. "Seeing these types of events is a great sign."
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With vaccines rolling out across the U.S. and anticipation of mass gatherings growing, deals such as this mean chauffeured transportation companies, which provide rides for special events such as weddings and retreats, are on the upswing.
Founded in 2016, Swoop began as a transportation booking company for events and groups nationwide. It's worked with companies such as Google and Amazon. Swoop has since expanded to provide a software-as-a-service platform that helps smaller transportation operators manage their fleets and communicate with customers. It can also serve as a payment hub.
The company raised $3.2 million in a seed funding round last July that was led by Signia Venture Partners, according to Crunchbase. Several angel investors also participated, including former Uber chief product officer Manik Gupta and former executive Kim Fennell.
The cash infusion came as travel companies, including ride-hailing and chauffeur services, were among the hardest hit by pandemic restrictions. People were leaving their homes less frequently and avoiding travel, and large conferences that once relied on shuttles or buses had been canceled.
Schultz said the company is seeing an uptick in business as Covid-19 vaccinations roll out and states begin to ease travel restrictions.
The company declined to provide booking numbers throughout the pandemic but said in states such as Florida and Texas they're at 80% pre-pandemic levels. Schultz said he expects travel to return to a sense of normal before the end of the year, adding that September and October already look to be busy for weddings and corporate retreats.
Swoop isn't alone in its recovery.
Lyft said in mid-March it expected to post positive weekly ride-hailing growth on a year-over-year basis and every subsequent week through the end of the year, barring a significant worsening of coronavirus conditions. It added that it expects its ride-hailing volume to grow in excess of 100% year over year as it begins "to lap the significant impact of Covid-19 on our business a year ago."
Uber, announcing a $250 million stimulus this week for drivers, also said the company is "starting to come back."