The 2022 Tech Hotlist
In no particular order, here's our hotlist of the top tech innovators and innovations sparking up the business travel industry
Just like the rocket they use in their marketing, the energetic team at TripStax have blasted into the travel management space this year with their fully-connected stack of applications. Promising “tech to make your business boom”, their secret weapon is The Core, a central powerhouse that drives the technology by managing booking, profile and invoice data across the entire TripStax eco-system, which includes a stack of modules – Approve, Profile, Track, Analytics, Content, Docs, Mobile – plus other integrated third-party technologies. Aimed at SME TMCs, the tech is affordable too because while most legacy travel technology providers charge TMCs transaction fees based on the consumption and storage of data, TripStax only charges TMCs once for ingestion of data, regardless of how many times that data is processed within the stack, which can mean big savings.
Although the TripStax brand is new, the stack comes from good stock, having been initially developed by the highly-experienced tech team at ATPI. Now being steered by CEO Jack Ramsey (ex ATPI and Travelport), its mission is not only to sign up new TMC clients but also to enhance the stack by finding exciting new partners. It’s got off to a strong start as early in July it announced the acquisition of TapTrip (in our 2021 Tech Hotlist), adding an innovative online booking option to the mix.
It’s more than 11 years since Chris Lewis and Gary Jones founded Travelogix with the simple mission to “empower TMCs across the globe with accurate, accessible, real-time data that drives success”. Their suite of cloud-based solutions have been expanded and enhanced over that time and the latest arrival, Geo, has earned Travelogix a spot in our 2022 Tech Hotlist.
Responding to the new age of business travel, Geo is a duty of care platform “designed with TMCs, for TMCs” and provides them with an intuitive user interface containing all traveller data, travel plans, locations, real-time security alerts, live country information and health updates. It’s the “arm around the shoulder” that each traveller truly deserves, says Lewis.
Available to Travelogix clients “at the flick of a switch” and via a “swift on-boarding” for non-clients, it gives SME TMCs an alternative to the more expensive and intrusive GPS-driven platforms aimed at the enterprise market. In time, Travelogix says Geo will act as a command centre for all TMCs and their travellers.
Like all good innovators, the brainy bunch at Grapevine haven’t been resting on their laurels since making it into our Tech Hotlist last year. Instead, they’ve been busy developing their latest product – Grapevine Premium – and it’s got them firmly back on our list again in 2022.
While their tech so far has been directed at TMCs, Grapevine Premium is a corporate-focused, pre-trip email that not only tells travellers everything they need to know about their destination pre-trip, but also empowers corporates to deliver on all the essentials – duty of care, risk, sustainability, wellbeing and DE&I – all in one email. It works in conjunction with Grapevine’s core product, powered by AI engine Marvin, and will be sold via TMCs. You heard it here first.
Transparency, control and confidence are words that warm our hearts, especially in the current environment, and that’s what’s being promised by Mysa CEO and Founder Gary Hurst with his latest venture, Myo. Designed to alleviate all the challenges and frustrations experienced by corporate buyers that Hurst has “listened to over the past 10 years”, the Myo platform simplifies processes and strives to give corporates the same level of control and confidence in procuring, auditing, booking and managing serviced accommodation as they get with hotels and airlines.
Not only that, it creates a “collaborative community” of property operators and corporate partners, promising new standards in safety, quality and duty of care – three other attributes that are music to any corporates ears. To top it all, Myo promises to cut out the additional cost and complications of dealing with intermediaries. Oh, and we like the simplicity of the name too.
Ironically, one of the key reasons why Grasp is in our list is because of the way it helps corporates deal with all the other new innovative tech providers entering the travel arena and being incorporated into corporate travel programmes – all of them producing data that’s going untapped. That’s where Grasp steps in, by essentially ‘grasping’ new data streams alongside travel data to give corporates insights into travel costs and traveller activities, which in turns helps them to optimise savings, improve compliance and “manage the unmanageable”.
Built by travel people for travel people, Grasp overlays TMC data with off channel data, so that the full trip is captured. Grasp can leverage data from the GDSs, back office, and off-channel data sources like Traxo, or it can take data directly from Atriis, bypassing the need for agent and GDS intervention, giving TMCs huge time and cost savings, which (hopefully) they’ll pass on to their clients.
Equality is a quality we’re passionate about so our interest was piqued when we saw this line in Impala’s submission: “With Impala, even the smallest travel agent can now reach out to the biggest hotel chain.” Impala is driving a new ‘open distribution’ approach to hotel distribution, enabled by modern API infrastructure, which removes the barriers of old travel technology.
The booking platform launched in March 2021 and now sells over 1.5 million rooms, with an average growth of 1,000 rooms a week. For hotels, the platform allows them to regain control of their distribution, reach new partners and markets and connect directly with room sellers without any gatekeepers in the way. In turn, agents can access the technology and inventory with no barriers, no upfront costs, and easy integration. It’s a win-win that’s won Impala a spot in our 2022 list.
It’s a product that’s been around for many years but which came into its own during the early days of the pandemic and is proving its worth again now as TMCs look to re-grow their teams, with many people opting for home-working or working on a hybrid basis. Allowing travel industry professionals to operate from anywhere, 7rDesktop gives users access to all the tools and data they need to do their jobs whether in the office or not, with all GDS, accounting systems and office automation systems supported.
Every element of 7rDesktop, from CPU to user support, is modular, which allows customers to expand, or contract, in an affordable and structured manner – something vital as TMCs adapt their businesses to support growing demand. Scott Pawley, Managing Director Global Travel Management, describes 7rDesktop as “The best IT decision I have made in 25 years of business” and if you check out the company’s website, there are more glowing testimonials.
Booking group travel isn’t easy but Groups360 is working hard to change all that with the help of new technology. Based on the level of support it’s already won from industry heavyweights, it must be on to a good thing. In 2019, Accor, Hilton, IHG and Marriott invested US$50 million to speed the development and rollout of its solution, GroupSync, and earlier this year Blackstone and two other private equity firms invested another US$35 million to fuel the company’s international growth.
The web-based solution provides greater access to hotel group rates and inventory for faster, smoother booking and includes a proprietary RFP-free group booking option called Instant Booking. Thanks to the rapid adoption of GroupSync technology, soon 20,000 of the nearly 200,000 RFP accessible global properties will be equipped to offer instant booking for group rooms and space. Hilton, Omni, IHG and Premier Inn are offering GroupSync’s Instant Booking capability across some or all of their estates and Accor is set for a worldwide launch later this year.
Atriis + retravel.io
It’s still early days but this new pairing has the potential to make a big impact on the sector. Back in May of this year, Atriis, an open travel marketplace, acquired reTravel.io, an autonomous traveller retention technology. The reTravel technology is being integrated into the Atriis platform and will help it to reduce leakage, which Atriis points out is more vital than ever “as corporate travel rebounds into a chaotic, disrupted, and understaffed industry”. For example, many travellers are not booking taxis or parking and, in some cases, not even hotels at the same time.
The reTravel technology uses AI and machine learning to define what products a traveller is most likely to purchase, and at which point during a trip. At the right time, reTravel will contextually engage the traveller with the right offer through the right channel, factoring in corporate policy and preferences alongside valuable traveller information. In a nutshell, this technology turns the process on its head by bringing the managed channel to the traveller rather than the other way around. Simple but game changing.
TRIPBAM for Air
Back in our list for a second year, the innovative team at TRIPBAM is making big in-roads with its new product for flight bookings. Like its game-changing hotel tech, TRIPBAM for Air provides fare re-shopping, contract auditing and benchmarking, both directly to corporate clients and through reseller agreements with TMCs. The result, says TRIPBAM, is that it is able to find lower fares for more than 10% of tickets used, with an average saving of £110. Not only that, because the rebooking is automated there are no agency fees associated with changing air tickets and, furthermore, all GDS search fees are covered by TRIPBAM.
Alongside the savings, TRIPBAM can also grade suppliers, assessing airlines or city pairs against the market or peer set, and do enhanced analysis on market share, which can help corporates in their negotiations. Once an agreement is reached, TRIPBAM’s Contract Auditing works 24/7 to monitor every booking against contracts to make sure suppliers are honouring the terms and to check that agreed rates are available and loaded in all systems. Crucially, it can also make sure travellers are policy compliant.