Launched last week, TripScanner is a browser-based, "open booking" enterprise tool to help small- and midsized-businesses manage their travel expenses.
As the startup puts it:
"Employees are free to book on any travel website they like, and simply forward their confirmation emails to TripScanner, which alerts the company if a trip is booked out-of-policy, and provides real-time reporting and forecasting on their travel expenses." (See promotional video, below.)
The Brooklyn start-up is owned by Ethan Laub, who is currently its sole employee. He says he's supported by software and web developers from Arbisoft, and other technical and marketing advisors.
Laub, a Harvard Business School graduate, previously was a director at American Express Business Travel
Q&A with CEO Ethan Laub:
Describe what your start-up does and its revenue model.
TripScanner saves companies money by eliminating travel agency fees while also helping to reign in expenses.
My strategy is to offer two, simple pricing plans, ranging from $49 a month to $99 a month for a small to mid-sized company. Larger companies would pay a simple fee of $1 per itinerary.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
I worked in client management for a large travel management company (TMC), and I noticed an increasing number of clients were complaining about finding lower prices on the Internet, and preferring more user-friendly consumer websites over their corporate booking tool.
I launched TripScanner to address this market need: allowing companies to control their travel expenses, while allowing employees the freedom to book on any travel website and get the best deal for their company.
How did your initial idea evolve?
Initially, we intended to market directly to small and midsized businesses. However, after receiving calls from several potential distribution partners, we are considering distribution as an additional marketing channel as well.
Where do you see yourselves in 3 years time?
We hope that TripScanner will have gained a sizeable customer base and achieved wide brand recognition in the market. We also plan to continue enhancing our technology to make it as accurate and automated as possible for us and our customers.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
TMCs and global distribution systems (GDSs) are being challenged to match the user-friendly technology and vast travel content available on the internet. TripScanner allows companies to take advantage of this technology and content, while retaining control over their travel expenses.
We've noted before how Managed Travel 2.0 poses a huge opportunity. There are over 3 million small- and midsized-businesses in the United States, offering a fat potential market for TripScanner.
But there's stiff competition for that unmanaged travel business, too. Just to name a few rivals, there's Concur's TripLink and Open Booking and Short's Travel Management's FindIt.
To keep ahead, TripScanner might want to consider adding gamification elements to help boost employee compliance.
We worry a bit about the start-up's strategy. Does it have one? Strategy isn't a product road map or price sheet. That's just a set of tactics.
It may need to develop a "kitchen cabinet" of advisors to help it plot strategy on what the business's winning aspiration is for three years from now; precisely which segments of the market it is choosing to play in; how to plans to win; what capabilities it'll need to get there; how it will acquire users/clients, perhaps through growth hacking; and what management systems it'll need to put into place as it scales up.
As that strategizing takes place, it's worth considering that it's still an open debate if unmanaged travel is a panacea to the ails of an increasingly complex business travel management landscape.
But this startup has targeted a clear pain point and delivered a clean product based on a lean startup model. We're eager to see what TripScanner does.
NB:TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.