LAST year marked an acceleration of the online booking tool market with many players, both new and existing, announcing notable initiatives.
In May 2021, the online travel management platform TapTrip – founded three years earlier – announced the launch of Vessul, a dedicated tool for the energy and marine sectors which allows companies to book flights for several travellers from different locations to arrive at the same destination at the same time.
Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre’s SME arm, launched its new proprietary online booking platform Melon in September in the US and Canada (UK customers had to wait to get access until 2022). The AI-powered platform, built on booking tech from its 2020 acquisition WhereTo, offers air content from the GDS and NDC sources as well as accommodation from Flight Centre’s deal with HotelHub.
Also in September, Psngr1, founded in 2016 by Chris Moss, announced new funding of US$13 million. The company says one of its USPs is that it can be linked to your existing TMC in minutes not in the “four to six-week onboarding timeline offered by existing corporate travel solutions”. It also offers both corporate and leisure travel booking in a single platform with TripBoards, a feature that allows users to book group travel for colleagues.
Rounding out a busy month in announcements, a new cloud-based booking platform called Spotnana emerged from stealth mode with a warchest of US$41 million of funding and a stellar team of senior management and investors including Sarosh Waghmar, Steve Singh, Bill Brindle and Johnny Thorsen. The company is working with TMC, supplier and technology partners to provide an open ecosystem with access to microservices and content from suppliers. Corporates can contract directly with Spotnana or through their TMC.
Making smart choices through AI was also at the heart of a new tool launched in November 2021 by Dutch-headquartered travel management company ATG. Its Baldwin tool is available on subscription and forms part of the TMC’s TravelSpace platform and uses AI to make personalised suggestions to travellers through chat. The company says future versions will also offer voice recognition in several languages.
In that same month, FCM announced its new strategy for online booking with the launch of its own proprietary portal FCM Platform. The platform is being rolled out in 2022 to new customers and the company promises an open environment that can integrate different booking tools, expense suppliers and duty of care providers into a single approvals flow.
Continue reading below to find out more about some of the emerging players on the scene.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
They’re too new to the market for BTN Europe to create full product profiles, but these new players (with some heavy-hitting credentials behind them) are innovating in ways that will challenge the market.
Baldwin (by ATG)
Who Travel management company ATG provides Baldwin. The tool is available only to ATG clients currently. Tammy Krings is CEO.
When The tool launched in November 2021. It was developed during the Covid-19 crisis when the company decided to double down on technology investment.
What According to ATG, Baldwin delivers bespoke door-to-door itineraries, including rail and car. ATG no longer thinks about travel booking as “shopping” and aims to deliver a “smart” booking on the first result.
How Baldwin works with ATG profile systems and machine learning to understand the traveller based on historic travel patterns and company travel patterns. Krings called the content strategy “completely plug and play” to serve global clients with local needs.
Who Coupa has been a respected procure-to-pay and expense technology provider. It acquired the award-winning, start-up candidate booking tool Pana in March 2021. Rob Bernshteyn is CEO.
When Coupa announced its new travel booking module in February 2022.
What Coupa’s travel module enables trip planning with the help of itinerary suggestions tailored to the individual, one of Pana’s key features. Upon booking, it creates line items in an expense report based on the selections. The Travel Saver tool, built from Coupa’s 2020 Yapta acquisition, monitors bookings for price changes in case there’s a chance for savings with rebooking.
How Sabre is providing content for the tool and Coupa has also partnered with Travel Leaders Corporate to provide around-the-clock live agent assistance.
Who Psngr1 is a start-up corporate travel tech firm. Chris Moss is CEO.
When Founded in 2015, but came into its own last year, winning the “People’s Choice” award at BTN’s Innovate Conference.
What Psngr1 offer a next-generation storefront compatible with ATPCO requirements. The booking platform enables collaborative trip planning that allows users to duplicate bookings and add trip events like meals or meetings to a joint itinerary with individual travel records that are serviced separately by the TMC. It also enables “micro-contracting” to boost buyer-supplier relationships.
How Psngr1 claims a “source agnostic” approach to content, and recently did direct-connect deals with seven carriers. It also has a new deal with travel management company TakeTwo.
Who Former WTMC CEO Sarosh Waghmar attracted Concur co-founder Steve Singh and has partnered with innovation heavy weight Johnny Thorsen on this new venture, funded by Singh’s Medrona Ventures Group. Waghmar is CEO.
When Came out of stealth mode in September 2021.
What Spotnana is an ecosystem provider that aims to bring harmony to GDS, mid-office, OBT and TMC services, which Singh characterised to BTN as “having different motivations.” The tech start-up says it will leverage cloud-based network technology to offer a “full range of functionality... that integrates content from any source, but yet is also configurable.”
How Claims it has 50 corporate clients and it will also sell to TMCs. It has made no partner announcements.