Three-year-old, Cambridge, Mass.-based Freebird offers flight disruption protection through travel management companies. When flights are disrupted, Freebird looks for better ways to get customers to their destinations and pays for new tickets from revenues derived from client fees. According to its website, users can “book a new ticket with only three taps, in less than 30 seconds, with no app to download.”
Corporate clients pay a negotiated fee, typically in the mid-teens per (origin and destination) flight. The fee is adjusted based on the expected volume of disruptions — higher for Buffalo in the winter, for example, than Phoenix in the summer.
“There’s a great value proposition for corporate travel managers in terms of delivering a better customer experience to the traveler,” said Freebird advisor Ellen Keszler during an April teleconference. “The company gets more value out of the investment they’re making in travel. There’s a great TMC value proposition as well because they’re offloading a lot of calls and interactions with travelers.”
“I love the fact that [Freebird] distributes through TMCs,” said Brian Harniman, partner in advisory firm Brand New Matter. “TMCs need new reasons to keep their customers happy. This is clearly one that works. I’ve used the product and do think there’s a there there.”
Daly said Freebird was building more structure into its revenue programs for TMCs. This would offer them tiered commissions based on the number of travelers they sign up.
“Some TMCs may want to prepay for travelers in advance, especially in the midmarket,” he said.
Freebird now serves hundreds of corporate accounts and about 10 TMC partners. Those include Adelman, Altour, Atlas Travel, BCD Travel, Casto Travel, Omega World Travel, Travel and Transport and Travel Leaders Corporate.
Where to from here?
Freebird co-founder Ethan Bernstein said the service was “pretty much built out. Until now we had spent 90 percent of our capital on products, technology and data science. We’re highly confident in the efficacy and success, and so that’s part of why Mike has joined.”
Daly’s latest role at Deem was as VP of strategic accounts. He previously worked for Sabre GetThere and United Airlines.