The 2021 Tech Hotlist
In no particular order, here's our list of the top tech innovators and innovations shaking up the business travel industry…
The young and enthusiastic TapTrip team has brought a breath of fresh air to the sector with eye-catching marketing campaigns and bold ambitions to make managing travel “as easy as watching Netflix”.
Its technology – designed for mobile first, not as a mobile add-on – is achieving impressive results: 95% compliance, 98% repeat business, up to 30% savings on monthly travel spend and 90% faster bookings.
In a change of direction, TapTrip is about to launch Vessul, a tech solution designed to tackle the logistical challenge of crew rotation for marine, oil and renewables. If anyone is going to make waves in this niche corner of the sector (deliberate pun) it’s these guys.
Driven by the belief that going green must be effortless, Thrust Carbon is creating the future of emissions reporting, reductions and removal with products which are easy to use, visually persuasive and designed to work with existing solutions.
It’s working in partnership with TMCs and directly with Fortune 500 clients, who can view their travel emissions and see where they need to change their behaviour thanks to engaging dashboards, innovative carbon budgeting and point-of-booking nudges.
It’s already making a difference and the next step is to integrate its full product suite inside the OBT environment.
AltoVita’s founders – road warriors Vivi Cahyadi Himmel and Karolina Saviova – had a bold vision: to simplify the “fragmented and inefficient” corporate housing booking process.
In January 2018 they launched an innovative cloud-based accommodation platform, delivering duty of care compliant housing solutions across 165 countries and more than 800 cities through a two-way API integration.
Their technology is designed to reduce the legacy sourcing timeline from 48-72 hours to a few minutes, saving clients 80% in accommodation charges.
This year Alto Vita added new functionalities, helping clients contrast and compare average and seasonal market prices and search more easily for specific needs, such as accommodation that’s pet-friendly, comes with good entertainment facilities, or is geared up for remote working.
Based on the company’s most recent figures – 976% revenue growth year-on-year – they’re clearly doing something right and have earned their place in our 2021 Tech Hotlist.
American Express GBT
The tech teams at American Express GBT have been beavering away since the start of the pandemic updating existing technology and bringing brand-new products to market.
Quick off the mark was Travel Vitals, deserving particular credit because it was immediately made available not just to the TMC’s own clients but to the wider industry. It’s a one-stop shop for up-to-date Covid information, providing data aggregated from hundreds of sources, including GBT’s travel risk intelligence partner Riskline. All the information can be searched by destination, airline, airport, hotel chain, train operator or ground transport provider.
What began as an agile response to an acute situation has evolved into being part of the TMC’s longer-term strategy to help the industry navigate the safe return to travel and, at the last count, there had been more than 2.35 million searches in the Travel Vitals portal.
Meanwhile, in recognition of the new ways of working, GBT has developed Workspaces, a booking service which helps remote workers and teams make flexible, daytime bookings of co-working spaces, hotel rooms, meeting venues and small hotel meeting rooms for work and collaboration. Launched in the US in March 2021, it is now being rolled out to clients across Europe.
Ride hailing is nothing new, of course, but Blacklane took it to a whole new level earlier this year when it introduced chauffeur hailing in 21 key cities, including London, New York, Paris and Berlin.
Crucially for corporate travellers, Blacklane chauffeur hailing promises the same quality, health and safety standards and fixed competitive fares as its pre-booked trips.
Better still, in London if you hail a chauffeur drive it will always be in an all-electric Jaguar I-PACE or Tesla thanks to the company’s investment in Havn, London’s all-electric chauffeur service. In other cities, Blacklane offsets journeys, helping you reach your sustainability targets.
With TMC revenues drastically down in the travel downturn, Grapevine is coming into its own.
It’s a selling platform, driven by an AI engine called Marvin (get it?), to help TMCs grow their ancillary sales beyond air tickets, using techniques widely used by the retail industry to capture revenue from hotels, car hire, parking and ground transportation. Eventually it will also capture in-destination spend such as restaurants and attractions.
Its a no-brainer for TMCs – Advantage Travel Partnership and WIN Global Travel Network have adopted it – while for corporates it provides a single source for ancillary bookings, which is crucial with duty of care higher than ever on the agenda.
It’s still relatively early days for this Manchester-based start-up, due to officially launch this autumn, but backed by a highly-experienced team and already signing some key deals in the corporate travel space, we felt it was worthy of a place in our hotlist.
In a particularly fragmented market, Jyrney brings Mobility as a Service to business travel, offering ground transport within a traveller’s online booking tool or directly into its portal, with visibility of total journey cost, CO2 emissions and meeting duty of care.
The only thing we’re not so keen on – because it confuses our sub-editors – is its spelling!
Inefficient processes, low visibility of volumes and leakages are just some of the pain points HotelHub promises to help eradicate with its next generation tech, which consolidates GDS and non-GDS content into intuitive web-based platforms – one for TMCs and another self-booking tool.
In addition, its Rate Optimiser dynamically tracks hotel rates, continuously searching for lower rates and rebooking if a better rate is found.
Already a long-term partner of CWT, it was recently selected by Flight Centre after a rigorous RFP.
Detecting and eliminating travel programme leakage is more vital than ever as we emerge from the Covid crisis and, in this area, Traxo continues to lead the pack.
Its tech solution automatically captures comprehensive information on TMC and non-TMC bookings to help travel managers drive compliance, identify savings and maximise duty of care.
As its CEO Andres Fabris says: “Expectations for traveller safety and support are higher than ever. If itinerary blindspots prevent companies from knowing where travellers are, or plan to be, they’re putting themselves and their travellers at unnecessary risk.”
When Covid-19 struck, TripActions jumped into action and developed a Return to Travel Feature Suite to help clients upload, manage and share health documents and track entry requirements, with instant chat support and a travel impact dashboard.
But the main reason it’s in our hotlist are its new sustainability tools, added this year. Users can set carbon budgets based on historical spend and industry benchmarking data and get real-time data for all inventory via an easy-to-use analytics dashboard, and with access to three globally-recognised methodologies to measure and track progress.
This Melbourne-based tech-led TMC made the business travel headlines back in 2016 when it was snapped up by Travelport.
But following a change of leadership at Travelport and the arrival of the global pandemic, the original founders – cousins David and Ross Fastuca – bought back the company in early 2020 and say it’s time to complete some unfinished business.
They’ve got some of the old gang back on board and have been busy expanding beyond Asia Pacific into the UK and US. Definitely one to watch.
“A game changer for the travel industry – we love it!” says Scott Pawley, MD at Global Travel Management, an early adopter of NavAgent.
In a nutshell, NavAgent makes life much easier for travel consultants who use the GDS by giving them dynamic customer data without interrupting their normal workflow, freeing them up to deliver a more consistent and personalised service to you, the client.
With TMCs under enough pressure already, it got a well-earned spot on our hotlist.
We’re jumping the gun a bit with this one, but having witnessed how TRIPBAM’s global rate auditing, benchmarking, analytics and sourcing has shaken up the hotel sector, we’re confident that its foray into air travel later this year will be just as impactful.
If all goes to plan, travel buyers will be able to enjoy big savings by rebooking flights, auditing air contracts, grading suppliers for how well they uphold agreements, and benchmark against peer companies down to a single route.