Door-to-door killer app for corporate travellers unveiled

Following initial announcements about a “killer app” and pilot testing last year, travel and expense management software house KDS has officially launched its door-to-door corporate booking tool Neo.

The “new” Neo is different from what was initially planned (see 2012 promotional video) and CEO Dean Forbes admits door-to-door was is complex than expected.

Having brought back CTO Stephane Le Cam from the startup world to lead the project, the result is quite promising given the short time-scale.

Neo was demonstrated live this week with a pretty good quality of results and impressive speed, very close to the target of five seconds response time, thanks to both smart caching and artificial intelligence to identify relevant itineraries.

The user experience provides many common consumer-driven features, with heavy leverage on Google’s infrastructure like real-time predictive text input, live street view and map overlays.

Door-to-door itineraries are displayed as a timeline with steps including walking, driving, biking, rail, hotel, flights, dining et al.

Users can then select and change key component like hotel or flight, and evaluate the impact on the overall cost.

Built on a proprietary framework based on HTML5/JS/CSS, the user interface adapts itself to the display size and has shown excellent rendering on desktop, iPad and iPhone browsers.

The development team has rebuilt the whole application architecture in order to ensure speed, scalability and device independency – and this could raise concerns from corporate customers, used to wait years for new travel code stacks to stabilize.

Estimating door-to-door expenses takes the process very close to total trip cost control. Neo assigns costs to every step and provides a breakdown of booking costs (air/car/hotel) and additional costs (bus/dining).

The itemized breakdown is nothing else than a skeleton expense report, which once approved can provide a benchmark for detecting variances with the post-trip expense claim.

Although usability can be further improved, the engine looks stable and in all live demonstrations, definetely fast.

Major gaps like hotel map search are already in development. However, deployment will be decided on a case by case basis with corporate clients.

And this is where the rubber will hit the road: sources with early access to the new tool think it’s not fully ready for prime time, and expect another three to six months before the quality of the results (read: fares) will be accurate enough to allow real bookings.

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Daniele Beccari

About the Writer :: Daniele Beccari

Daniele Beccari is a contributor to tnooz, and head of travel products at Criteo.

As travel technology strategist, he has helped startups and blue-chip corporations define and launch innovative solutions in leisure, corporate, online and mobile sectors. He also served as Vice President, Europe and B2B, at Isango! (now part of TUI), and previously as head of corporate products for the e-travel division of Amadeus.

He started his career at HP, working on what is known today as the Internet of things. An MBA graduate from INSEAD, Daniele can be found somewhere between Paris, London, Turin, San Francisco or Tokyo.

Daniele's views are his alone and not the views of his clients or employers.

 

Comments

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  1. Gilar

    Someone can explain to me the example provided in the screenshot. Why the ground transportation should arrive at the airport at 6h50 twelve hours before the flight departure at 18h55 ? Why most of the events start at 7h45 and end at 8h10 ?

     
    • Daniele Beccari

      Hi Gilar, the image is not a screenshot but probably an initial design mockup. We could not grab screenshots or pictures of the live demo.

       
  2. El Kaim William

    Thank you Daniele, great summary!

    If somebdoy could add door to door planning with “right time booking” this will solve all main issues.
    The idea is to book what you need and to ticket when you are sure that nothing will change your plan. if you can not be sure, the door to door computation should propose Plan B …
    And this should be done “dynmaically” and on the go. instead on sending an email stating that your flight is delayed, the system should send some proposal. So, instead of saying “you’ve got Issues”, you should be told, I have some (preventive) actions to propose.
    So move from a “status” world to a more “intellignet” and pro-active world. Travel policy compliance is then a major topic for plan B. Most of travel policy do not treat disruption use cases.

     
  3. Murray Harrold

    Nice idea. Especially the expenses element and would help people on the move. Really should leave (complex) planning – especially flights – to the professionals, though. Business type’s plans do change by the moment so it would need to be able to accommodate that – answering questions such as: “This meeting has overrun by 30 mins, how much time do I have left and should I re-appraise how I travel?” or “Flight delayed 50 mins – How does that impinge on the rest of my day?”

    Door to door planning is difficult – one also has to bear in mind that once planned, there is a very good chance something will happen. So, would venture this should focus on being able to provide alternatives …. if a delay is encountered, “walk” becomes “taxi” or “train”. This would, however, demand an impossible amount of local knowledge. When it comes to flights, “rebook to…” would be needed. With the best will in the world, that would need an agent to evaluate the various options and cost considerations.

    I would venture that one may be able to sell this as a very useful planner. I don’t know where it is intended to derive income from the project – but I could see people using this as a purchased stand alone – especially if linked to gethere, checkmytrip or virtuallythere etc.

    Nice idea. maybe trying too hard… and possibly need to refocus the direction of the project?

     
    • Daniele Beccari

      Hi Murray, agree completely and I would add “planning” does not mean “booking”. At the end, only the classic stuff like air/hotel needs to be booked. Everything else (like at what time you need to wake up) can be seen as decision support information, or as budgeting information.

       
 
 

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