The Lola travel platform is making
what might seem like an unusual move - shifting from a mobile-only strategy to
now offering a desktop version of its travel management app.
While mobile bookings in the United
States are growing more rapidly than any other channel, according to
Phocuswright, Lola founder Paul English says the company is making this change to
address a specific request from one of its target audiences: executive
assistants at small- and medium-size businesses.
“The executive assistants were the
biggest ones who said, 'We love the mobile app' … but they’re sitting at their
desks Monday 9-to-5, and they want it on desktop,” English says in an interview with PhocusWire.
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That’s some of the feedback English
and his team have gathered since pivoting in October 2017 to focus the platform
on the needs of frequent business travelers, which have become Lola's most
active users since it launched as a general travel platform in May 2016.
Along with the desktop version, Lola
has created “Book on Behalf,” which enables travel managers to book flights and
hotels for employees and view all receipts and itineraries, while at the same
time allowing traveling employees to see all of their plans in the mobile
app and receive updates as if they had booked things themselves.
Travel managers can also now designate access to a company
purchasing card, so at checkout employees can choose whether to pay with
their personal credit card or charge it directly to the company.
“Sometimes the employees like to put
it on their own credit card to get the points,” English says.
“But sometimes, particularly for
younger employees, they don’t have the credit line to handle travel if they’re
traveling a lot, so they want to have the ability for the company to pay for
These updates come on the heels of
English stepping aside as CEO of Lola. Mike Volpe will take over as CEO in
August, and English will become president and chief technology officer.
“He [Volpe] is one of the best B2B marketers in
the country, so he will focus on sales and marketing, and I will focus on the
design of the product,” English says.
English says the new desktop app “will
evolve rapidly” with feature updates weekly, and the mobile app will change every two
weeks, based on “a road map of everything we want released over the next 12
months” as well as feedback Lola gleans from executive assistants and other
English describes its strategy as “building
a Concur-lite” system, one he acknowledges will put Lola squarely in
competition with services such as TripActions and TravelPerk.
“We have to beat them at having a
product that is simpler and faster,” he says.
“It’s a work in progress.”