It’s no longer surprising to see new entrants in the corporate travel space pull down big investments. Funding announcements for brand new and somewhat new players seem to come weekly. Still, the latest investment in TripActions was eye-popping. VC firm Andreessen Horowitz last week announced it invested $154 million in Series C funding at a $1 billion valuation. The story so far is about aggressive marketing, slick user-facing technology, a perception that traditional competitors move too slowly and an impressive early sales trajectory.
Under the threat of increased content fragmentation, travel management companies and corporate travel booking tools can earn their stripes by integrating multiple sources. Each has its own approach to the age-old challenge made new by the emergence of NDC. SAP Concur last month told TMCs that for its online booking tool, they must decide to “present the entirety of each airline’s content” from a traditional GDS connection or from Travelfusion, an aggregator.
When you’re looking for a new booking tool experience, it’s nice to work at a company with its own user experience experts. Not thrilled with what it’s like to use Concur Travel, ZS Associates this summer put on a bake-off including three competing systems and two supplier sites.
Rewards platform provider Tripkicks last week switched on a Chrome browser plug-in for SAP Concur Travel. Concur users whose companies work with Tripkicks will see target budgets to beat in the booking tool as they plan their travel. The first mover in the space, Rocketrip, already uses Chrome and Internet Explorer extensions with Concur and Sabre GetThere. It now plans to move away from them in favor of a new set of user touchpoints beyond browsers.
With 14 small and midsized clients on board after a couple of years building and testing, business travel app maker PSNGR1 officially launched this month and plans to help suppliers deal with SMEs based on data. Small and midsized companies tend not to have managers of travel. Their individual volume doesn’t justify sending a sales rep to chase the business. Many of these clients use online travel agencies, which generally don’t offer travel management capabilities. Going direct, even using something like Concur’s TripLink, sacrifices comparison shopping and policy application.
It was a remarkable rebuke. During the Global Business Travel Association convention in August, one of the association’s board members chastised a seminar speaker mid-session for turning his education into a sales pitch. The exchange reflected concerns in the travel buyer community about the commercialization of industry training offered by non-profits. One issue is whether industry suppliers have too much influence over event content.
How closely should companies watch who is driving their people around? Execs needing to reduce risk use chauffeured services that outline data privacy, insurance and safety commitments in corporate contracts. VIPs can get dedicated drivers. Other employees traditionally used taxis, putting faith in public protections. Then came Uber and a regulatory melee. While companies with these concerns may involve legal, risk or other departments, some travel managers must vet with little support. Many organizations are just looking the other way. Ridecheq, a New Jersey-based certification company aiming to start services early next year, wants to help.