I spent years of my professional life as a road-warrior. In the product management world, I was constantly wading through prospective clients and key customers as well as account managers, finance executives, and C-suite officers. As a result, I ended up spending 80 percent of my work life traveling.
It was an exhausting and lonely experience – being away from my family, missing important milestones, jumping from the blasé confines of one hotel room to the next. So how did I cope? Like most people on the road a lot, I tried to maximize the enjoyment of the perks each company provided. Of course, each company has different regulations, priorities, and bureaucratic frameworks, which can make maximizing the leisure of a trip outside of the endless array of meetings surprisingly complicated.
But then I realized this is true for most business travelers across the globe. Recent studies discuss the "darker side of hypermobility" and how most business travelers are increasingly exposed to physiological, psychological, emotional and social effects in their lives. For a type of employee with so many negative risks associated with it, their experience flying, traveling, and as result working, deserves to be a seamless one with service and support that delivers quickly from any device.
And yet, the industry is surprisingly archaic. Why is booking flights and hotels such a hassle within so many different departments? Why is it so complicated to reward employees, and how can we strike that perfect balance of being cost-efficient while still allowing employees to actually enjoy their time up in the air? The more my TripActions co-founder, Ilan Twig, and I thought about it, the more this industry seemed ripe for disruption.
Riding the travel trend
With a projected spending of $1.6 trillion by 2020, the business travel industry is growing at an exponential pace as companies outsource more and more of their clients across the world and globalization continues to expand. The business travel way of before was a very volatile concept – prices fluctuating within hotels and flights, cities and their drastically differing costs, the confusion for managers arising from each traveler prioritizing different things. These challenges made it perfect for advanced software to calculate and find a tailored experience for every traveler while automatically accounting for company policies, market pricing trends and traveler preferences.
Building a business travel platform from the ground up and thinking about what will motivate road-warriors to spend company money as their own isn't easy. We've chosen the more difficult path of building the full end-to-end solution to deliver a modern experience to travelers, CFOs and people responsible for managing the travel program. Everyone gets rewarded, and we save companies money in the long-run while at the same time running a holistic solution for the modern business traveler, all within a single mobile app instead of running through five different booking sites hoping to find a flight that matches your preferences.
Challenging the status quo and creating disruption is an arduous process, so here are three things that help us deliver an experience through technology:
1. Focus is everything. Reassess where you're spending your time often and make sure you're aligned with the long-term view of your company.
2. Iterate and learn quickly. Some of the best ideas come from failures. There will be setbacks.
3. Put data and reports in the context of the story. This is the quickest way to prevent the numbers from hiding things. Data also contributes towards continually improving your service by identifying trends.
As machine learning grows more apt at finding key solutions for everyone, we felt that implementing algorithms into our system would transform travel booking into a seamless and intuitive experience. More than 90 percent of our bookings were from the seven first options presented, thanks to our technology which allows the platform to craft an incredibly comprehensive profile on every traveler's preferences. This is how we translate innovation into an unparalleled experience.
About the author: Ariel Cohen is the co-founder and CEO of TripActions.