Tech Hotlist 2023
In no particular order, here's our pick of top tech innovations and innovators who are shaking up business travel
In a world where access to content is well and truly king, Spotnana’s open Travel-as-a-Service platform is emerging as a strong contender for next in line to the travel throne.
Designed to replace legacy travel industry infrastructure, which it argues is “ancient and has been stifling innovation for decades” its open platform allows customers to access content that other platforms cannot reach.
And those customers are coming thick and fast – recent biggies include Solutions Travel and CWT, who were especially enticed by Spotnana’s deep direct NDC integrations, which come with full support for self-service changes and cancellations, as well as comprehensive servicing.
Personalisation is also a priority, and Spotnana’s online booking tool and agent desktop seamlessly accesses profiles, policies and more. Working directly with corporates, TMCs, suppliers and also financial and technology providers like Brex, Spotnana is hitting all parts of the travel ecosystem, backed by enthusiastic investors and a heavyweight (and often outspoken) executive team.
Based on a proven model from fintech and other industries, Amsterdam-based Katanox is promising to bring some much-needed cohesion to the fragmented world of hospitality distribution.
In a nutshell, its platform allows hotels and other accommodation to connect directly with travel sellers like TMCs, cutting out the usual ‘gatekeepers’ or ‘middle men’.
By enabling direct partnerships and payment processing in one place, it aims to create a simpler and more transparent process, saving hoteliers time and money, giving them more consumer insights and more control, in turn encouraging innovation.
On the buyer side, Katanox provides data streaming access and the availability to directly search, book, pay and modify bookings at any time.
For both sides, it can also throw in useful, tailor-made extras like price freezes, the option to travel now but pay later, or cancellation and change fees as new revenue opportunities.
This cloud-based B2B travel platform allows users to create, book and manage multi-modal trips, from the first to the last mile, including air (EDIFACT & NDC), rail, bus/coach, rental cars, shared and micromobility providers and even ferries, all in one place.
The platform also integrates a next-gen booking tool, Junction One, formerly PSNGR1, which, after a bit of a wobbly start (its initial owner ran out of cash, but thankfully Snowfall saw its potential and quickly snapped it up), is now back on track.
Following a refresh and rebrand (with a much better name, in our opinion), Junction One offers an intuitive storefront and collaborative, self-service TripBoards, to meet the expectations of digital-native generations and deliver a future-fit experience for all parties – corporates, TMCs and suppliers.
The Junction platform also boasts AI-powered predictive, automated assistance and disruption management technology and integrated instant payments, enterprise-level FX rates and seamless reconciliation
The Miles Consultancy, Mobility iQ
Ground transport is sometimes dismissed as the poor relation in the business travel ecosystem and has consequently been wrongly overlooked by the technology innovators, but it’s now attracting the interest and investment it deserves.
One example comes from The Miles Consultancy in the shape of its so-called ‘super app’, Mobility iQ. It’s a B2B2E digital SaaS platform which can be used by travelling employees for pre-trip and in-trip journey planning, booking, travelling and expensing, and can be configured by a corporate to include suppliers, policy and users.
Right now, it’s live and available across Western Europe and is being rolled out to the US in the third quarter. Its mission is to promote more responsible traveller behaviour when booking ground transportation, including car rental, ride, taxi and rail, based on company preferences surrounding the three ‘Cs’ – cost, carbon and clock (time) – and steps (mobility).
Meanwhile, integrated AI delivers real-time traveller recommendations in the event of travel disruption, such as strikes, traffic or weather. Its creators expect travellers to like it so much, they use it for their personal mobility needs too.
Move over clunky company travel intranet, there’s a new kid in town. As travel programmes become increasingly complex and intricate, and with suppliers wanting to share ever-changing information about how they’re tackling safety and duty of care, the latest sustainability initiatives and the overall experience, travel managers can understandably feel overwhelmed by the task of keeping their travellers properly informed.
Step forward Tripism, billing itself as a ‘single source of truth’ by incorporating travel policy guidelines and supplier updates, but also integrating a clever TripAdvisor-style review element, so travellers can share experiences – good and bad – with their colleagues.
Not only does this help travellers make better choices, it also gives travel managers valuable insights into their travel programme and how their preferred suppliers are performing. A win-win.
Like other disruptive start-ups, this one was the brainchild of a pair who came from outside the travel space. Trying to choose the best location for a global organisation’s internal meeting, they realised how manual and opinion-driven the process was and decided there must be a better way.
TROOP launched back in 2018, using technology that uses Big Data and machine learning to find the best meeting locations for corporate groups and events based on specific requirements, such as cost, ease of access, safety, visa requirements, carbon footprint and even the proximity to attractions and places to eat and drink.
By streamlining the entire meeting planning process, organisations can make informed decisions and plan meetings of any size within minutes. Since the pandemic, when so many more workforces are dispersed, TROOP has really come into its own. In the last 15 months alone, its team has grown from six people to 60 and in March 2023 TROOP completed an $11m Series B funding round to finance expansion across Europe and the US and to deliver and launch TROOP: One, its end-to-end meeting management platform.
The company claims to help clients reduce, on average, 25% in costs, 20% travel time, and 17% of CO2 emissions for each planned meeting. You can’t argue with those figures.
This Manchester-based ride-hail, taxi and chauffeur services start-up made it into our Tech Hotlist back in 2021 when it was still in its very early infancy. In fact, it hadn’t even officially launched at that time but we took a punt and, thankfully, we were proved right. Jyrney is back in our list for 2023 because it has just unveiled its mobile solution, claiming it will revolutionise the way travellers access and manage ground transportation.
The mobile offering can be accessed as a standalone solution for corporate clients or integrated into travel companies’ mobile booking apps, with the data available in mid-back offices, Global Distribution Systems and risk management software. Travellers will have access to ride-hail, taxi and chauffeur services both for pre-booked and on-demand trips.
By integrating with travel tech platforms, travel buyers and TMCs can get complete visibility over location, costs, and carbon emissions. What sets Jyrney apart from its competitors is that in the event of delays, it reallocates bookings to closer taxi companies, ensuring prompt and reliable pickups.
It has already partnered with some key TMCs and tech companies, including TripStax, and co-founder and CEO Daniel Price tells us there are more exciting partnerships coming soon. You heard it here first.
This Berlin-based newcomer is still in its beta testing phase and is actively seeking partners who want to give its technology a try, but we spotted its potential and decided to include it in our 2023 list. It founders, Michael Friedrich and Maxim Kahlert, are “flipping the script on business travel” by shifting the focus from the cost of the trip to the purpose and the value derived from it.
Responding to the glaring need for more efficient and conscious travel, the Tagtu platform is a fusion of technology and strategic planning, integrating contact data and address book information into travel planning to allow travellers to achieve more meetings on fewer trips and to maximise value and return.
It aims to help companies make more strategic decisions about when and how to travel, who to meet and how often, for the best business outcomes. Crucially, in doing so, Tagtu’s platform also paves the way for more sustainable travel choices. What’s not to like?
When it comes to encouraging business travellers to make more responsible choices, great strides are being made across the industry, but the tech team at CTM has been working particular hard to help this TMC’s clients meet their sustainability goals. Thanks to recently added features, CTM’s Climate+ claims to be the first connected platform to support every step of a corporate’s business travel sustainability journey.
With the help of granular emissions data from RDC Aviation, CTM’s booking tool and app provides CO2 calculations for flights, but also for hotels, trains and car journeys. Clients can input business travel activity by location, route and class to create a carbon forecast and build realistic, actionable carbon budgets, which can be assigned by company, division or team by year, quarter or month.
Importantly, at point of sale there are clear labels highlight greener travel options, intelligently nudging users to make more sustainable choices. The tool also provides reporting and analytics, and lets companies assign approvers and transfer carbon budgets between department and travellers.
Another shining example of the benefits of developing technology in house, Travel Planet’s Click & Control is a modular marketplace with speedy and limitless integration capabilities to meet the ever-evolving travel distribution eco-system. It has been designed to retrieve data from any supplier without the need for intermediary technological operators.
Its easy integration capabilities were demonstrated earlier this year when Travel Planet was able to be NDC ready for American Airlines within just four weeks – yes, four weeks! Click & Control also deserves credit for displaying carbon emissions data at the point of sale. But, like all good innovators, the in-house techies are continually developing the platform to stay one step ahead of clients’ needs.
The most recent additions include a Video Teleconferencing module, available via mobile and web, enhanced Duty of Care dashboards and a ground transportation module. Next on the list is finding
a way to integrate serviced accommodation into the platform.