Startup pitch: TripActions looks to change corporate traveller behaviour through rewards

TripActions emerged from beta earlier this week announcing a significant funding round and its public launch.

The corporate travel platform aims to encourage business travellers to make savings by incentivising them as well as improve the overall process of booking business travel.

The San-Francisco-based startup, founded in March 2015,  has been in beta since the middle of last year.

Q&A with TripActions:

What problem does your business solve?

In an industry where the old approach was to manage travel through an ERP like system with strict policy, we saw that employees do not think of company money as their own when booking business travel.

We focus on the booking experience, providing amazing customer support, and saving companies 30% on their travel budget by changing employee behavior.

Names of founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff?

Ariel Cohen, Co-founder and CEO
Ilan Twig, Co-founder and CTO

Funding arrangements?

Typical series A funding, led by Oren Zeev and joined by Lightspeed Ventures.

Revenue model?

We charge a flat booking fee per trip.

Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?

The market has not seen a company take our type of focus. Companies want to see a modern, complete travel solution so we built an end-to-end solution starting from the booking experience, real time on-the-go notifications, amazing customer support delivered through technology, and a trackable travel program that saves companies 30% on their travel budget by changing booking behavior.

External validation?

We see our customer base of 70 customers with well known brand names as external validation.

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Tnooz view:

Someone in the business travel startup world recently commented that the size of the market alone makes it attractive for startups and investors.

He also said the poor user experience with employees dictated to in terms of the technology leaves the sector ripe for disruption.

In the past 10 days, TripActions received $14.6 million for its Series A round and Upside announced a whopping $50 million investment for its service that also rewards business travellers for being flexible with travel plans.

The investments serve to demonstrate the interest in the sector although the cynics out there would say it’s reinventing the wheel and it’s what travel agents (human ones) do anyway.

However, that’s not allowing for a generation of people who naturally turn to smartphones to manage their daily lives. They don’t always want to pick up the phone and they don’t find the current systems intuitive.

But, for anyone who does require the human touch, the startup is also providing a US-based support team.

A couple of questions remain. Are these startups a solution looking for a problem? There are many in the business travel world who agree the technology has not moved on and it will be squeezed by new players.

Why would large companies such as Travelport, Amadeus, Concur, British Airways, Carlson Wagonlit and Marriott have incubation and acceleration initiatives if they didn’t want to get from fresh thinking on board?

And, finally, is there enough room for all these startups when consolidation is already happening in the sector (think Amex GBT and KDS or Concur and Hipmunk)?

There are quite a few of them around now working in a similar space – Travelperk, Upside, TripActions and Rocketrip to name a few.

Inevitably, there will be consolidation as the big guys keep an eye on the traction of these startups while there’s also the potential for some of them to join forces to create a bigger entity.

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda worked at tnooz from September 2011 to June 2018 in roles including senior reporter, deputy editor and managing editor.



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