Sabre Claims Lead In ‘Early Days’ For Itinerary Apps

By | June 18, 2015

TripCase, TripIt and WorldMate have been the granddaddies of itinerary apps since the App Store’s infancy. Using WorldMate’s API for email parsing and its GDS for agency synchronization, Sabre claims the lead with 30 million TripCase itineraries managed last year.

“It’s early days,” said Sabre senior vice president for traveler solutions John Samuel. “This is a new space and we’re all experimenting and learning more about what the traveler really wants.”

Image: Reuters/Benoit

Image: Reuters/Benoit

Among 110,00 Sabre-connected agencies is American Express Global Business Travel. “TripCase is our supported tool right now,” said Amex GBT’s vice president of digital traveler Evan Konwiser in March. “We have lots of customers on that. We’re in the early days of figuring out our mobile strategy.”

The TMC might build its own apps, like some competitors have.

During an online chat hosted this month by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, Konwiser wrote, “I think mobile is still the biggest [trend] having an impact on travel programs. That ship may have sailed in the consumer world, but for corporate programs, we’re just scratching the surface. Think about the value created from having an always-on connection to your travelers.”

TripCase hasn’t done much with white labeling, but Samuel said “we are working on opening up our platform and allowing third parties [for a fee] to build things on top of it. That’s not launched yet but we’re doing a hack day in London at the end of June and have told participants we’ll expose some of the TripCase APIs and let people build some cool stuff.”

TripCase already integrates with services including CheckMate, Instagram and Uber. It has commercial agreements with those players and also charges for TripCase Corporate. Launched in mid-2014, the corporate version integrates with GetThere, facilitates policy messaging and aggregates non-GDS booking data.

Globalizing TripCase is “the single largest project we have taken on,” said Samuel. The iOS version currently is available in English and German.

WorldMate also has been working on going international, starting in Japan. Its Trip To Go and B-Schedule apps went to market in February in partnership with the JTB-CWT Business Travel Solutions joint venture. Carlson Wagonlit Travel is WorldMate’s parent company. Trip To Go is for unmanaged business travelers and offers hotel, car rental, insurance booking and airline mobile check-in. B-Schedule also synchronizes itineraries for bookings made by managed clients through JTB-CWT.

TripCase and Concur’s TripIt are offering “glanceable” info on the Apple Watch. TripCase is also on the Pebble smartwatch and in Samsung’s Gear line of wearables. TripIt is available for Google Glass and Android Wear, though SAP/Concur senior vice president for global product management and strategy Sanjay Almeida said “adoption is pretty minimal at this point.”

“We don’t have anything on Apple Watch today,” said WorldMate vice president Ian Berman. “We’re still in a little bit of a wait-and-see mode, waiting for critical mass. It seems like it’s selling well so I think it will happen soon. It’s really a matter of when, not if.”

For its iOS app, WorldMate soon will enable ticket purchases for local activities, concerts and sporting events.

TripIt in March enhanced its traveler profile so users can store contacts and copies of documents like passports, driver’s licenses or NEXUS Pass ID. TripIt claims more than 11 million users; officials said the service sends more than 1.5 million flight alerts every month and issues 70,000 refund alerts every year. The company declined to provide a figure for the total number of itineraries managed.

WorldMate’s website claims 11 million users and 13 million trips managed.

Sabre’s 30 million trips managed last year includes those coming from more than 40 airlines that use TripCase as their primary itinerary management tool for direct bookings.

While these apps are emphasizing distinct areas of new development, and there are just a few differentiators between them beyond the basics of itinerary management, the traveler’s choice often comes down to personal preference.

“I think the choice between the two is like the Coke and Pepsi thing,” one frequent flyer posted on FlyerTalk.com. “Depending on what type of itineraries a person has and how they are formatted, one product may be better than the other.”

These three apps are not the only ones in the market. Kayak offers an itinerary aggregator. A newer firm called Trip38 looks slick. Even expense management app Expensify parses emails and consolidates itineraries. Google is ramping up its game, too, with new bundling that brings together travel-related emails as part of its Inbox service.

“There are other vendors doing a few things,” said Concur’s Almeida. “They have capabilities but where we are is it’s a package that contains the features a user really wants to use. Google has the capacity to do a lot of things, but from the data perspective and putting all that together, it’s still not there.”

Here’s a look at selected features.

[table id=10 /]Notes:
Updated June 2015. Checked features may be available only on the app’s iOS version.
Sources: iTunes App Store, Google Play store, product websites
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Author: Jay Campbell

Jay Campbell in 2004 created travel business newsletter The Beat, in 2006 co-founded Travel Procurement magazine and in 2010 integrated them into Northstar Travel Media's BTN Group. He served as editorial director until 2013. Jay made his travel industry media debut in 1993 at the Air Travel Journal of Boston while earning his undergraduate degree in journalism at Boston University. More on LinkedIn.