20 | Business Travel News | October 2, 2017 www.businesstravelnews.com
What challenges does Tripism seek to resolve?
We did some early research, and about 85 to 90
percent of business travelers use tools designed for
the leisure traveler to piece together that business
trip. They will look at their preferred hotel list for a
given area and go to TripAdvisor or Booking.com to
see what people say about those hotels or use tools
like Yelp to find restaurants that might be suitable
for them. That gives them a number of challenges.
It’s completely fragmented. You’re reading reviews,
and those sites pride themselves on infinite content,
which is great if you’re planning a vacation with
your family and that’s part of the experience and
part of the discovery. But if I have to meet Ericsson
at Bryant Park at 8 o’clock on Oct. 21, and I just
want a hotel that’s nearby and in the program and
convenient for me, I don’t want infinite content. I
want specific information so I can make my decision. That’s what Tripism does. We take data from
lots of different places and we also take the knowledge and the reviews and tips from your coworkers,
and we present that in a highly sophisticated and
relevant way to the traveler. Rather than seeing
infinite content, they can just see the information which we have for them to make a fast, good
How do you determine those decisions?
We work with the customer, so we take information from them like their office location, and put
in those hotel suppliers. We can also look at their
expense data and see what are the most frequented
restaurants in this specific area. From doing that,
you’re benefiting from the corporate card usage from
people who live in that city, so the expertise locally
and the kind of research other travelers have done.
We have partnerships. We work with people like
American Express corporate card and Dinova, the
preferred restaurant provider, so when a user logs in
and needs information about a specific destination,
we can present it to the traveler so they can make
the right decision.
What role does traveler feedback play in
Travel buyers do a fantastic job building relationships with their travel suppliers [with] partial
information. They have information about number
of nights stayed or number of dollars spent, but they
don’t have quality of service or feedback from their
travelers. We enable a very simple way for travelers
to quickly and easily give feedback that is helpful for
their coworkers to make their decision. If someone
I know has recommended a hotel near Bryant Park,
that’s an easy decision for me because I trust them.
We also do analysis on those reviews and can provide them back to the travel managers, which they
can use to provide constructive feedback to their
suppliers and drive continual improvement to the
performance of their travel suppliers.
That feedback is visible only to the buyer, not the
Correct, though we have what we call a supplier portal and some companies would like us to engage with
their suppliers and give them access to the portal.
That enables [suppliers] to provide very rich content,
which is specific for business travelers, and they can
also create negotiated benefits or specific unique
promotions just for travelers from that company. If
I’m a traveler from Company X, when I log in, the
content I see is the content only meant for users of
that company. As part of that, they are happy for us
to provide anonymized reviews back to the travel supplier. I can see it’s a traveler from Company X. I can’t
see who it is, but I can see what they said. [Consider a
hotel that invests] a tremendous amount of money in
a property and [tries] to provide the very best service
to travelers from this company. [They’ve] negotiated
fantastic benefits for travelers from that company, but
when travelers from that company look at the booking tool, it’s so unsophisticated because the GDSs are
so restrictive in the amount of information that can
pass through. They are perceived to be exactly the
same as the property across the road, which hasn’t
been refurbished in 20 years and provides very little
in additional value to travelers. With our platform,
they can present themselves in a fantastic way and
can present those negotiated benefits clearly to the
travelers. It’s great for the traveler because I get more
benefits and visibility of unique promotions.
How would Tripism improve compliance versus a
standard corporate booking tool?
Eighty-five percent of travelers are completely unaware of negotiated benefits from preferred suppliers because they can’t see it anywhere. This platform
enables them to do more and provide more benefits
to the traveler. Travel suppliers frequently want to
enable special promotions for travelers from different companies, but they have no means of being able
to do it. They can either put a PDF on the Internet,
where it’s not read or [it’s] forgotten about, or they
can email 20,000 travelers, of which it might only be
relevant for 100. With Tripism, say they have a trip
for August in Chicago. We can show them where
the office is located, which of the preferred hotels is
nearby, what travelers and coworkers say about the
hotel, the unique benefits negotiated and any promotions applicable for that location at the time they are
traveling. It’s just a much better way of presenting
information to the travelers.
How many buyers are you working with so far?
With the platform, we work with 20 or so [small and
midsize enterprises] in Europe, but now our focus is
around the larger corporate. We’ve announced that
we will work with Microsoft on a global basis. In the
next quarter, we’ll be going live with another two
large corporations, and we’ll leverage that to bring
on more through the early part of next year.
Even as corporate booking tool providers improve their products, the siren call of less-restrictive leisure
booking tools pulls travelers out of their managed programs. To counter that, Tripism factors in not just
corporate preferred suppliers and terms or just TripAdvisor-esque reviews but both. The booking interface
pairs preferred suppliers with coworkers’ feedback on properties, restaurants and the like. The result is an
in-policy booking informed by a consumer eye. Founder Adam Kerr spoke with BTN’s Michael B. Baker.