Troop and Spotnana, two next-generation travel tech providers are collaborating to automate meeting location selection and travel booking technologies into a single string for both corporates and travel management companies.
Troop, which since 2017 has aimed to automate the meeting selection process through use of big data strategies that will look at cost, time to location and carbon emissions vectors to find the most efficient meeting location based on the origin of the meeting participants, has not yet offered its own travel booking extension of that sourcing exercise.
Through a partnership with business travel technology provider Spotnana, however, that next step is on its way via a “soft launch” at the Global Business Travel Association convention in San Diego.
Dennis Vilovic, co-founder and CEO of Troop, says: “We are solving the planning piece” through the big-data sourcing platform. It’s just natural—as well as a customer request, actually—that people want to book the travel, which is simpler and more transactional [than our planning platform]… so I think it’s just a very natural progression for us here.”
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The booking interface is called Troop powered by Spotnana and company executives say that for now the booking mechanism works by triggering travel invites to the meeting participants with a link to book the pre-configured itinerary upon which the sourcing estimate was based, whether that was optimized for cost, time or carbon efficiency.
While the tool will offer settings that allow the meeting participant to change the optimized itinerary, it also bakes in an awareness of how the individual booking has a domino effect on the group if changes are made.
Vilovic adds: “The individual will actually be aware of the impact of their changes toward the group, which then, in the end, drives behavior. They realize with this kind of setup, there’s [ground] transport already organized for four people, so if they change their flight, the organizers will have to plan additional transport just for them. So, I think those things are quite exciting."
The group booking view is part of the ‘social’ capabilities that Troop hopes to build into the tool that executives said will take the value of the booking beyond the transaction.
Spencer Brace, head of growth strategy for Troop, says: “It’s not just about the transaction. It’s about adding value in that booking and fulfillment piece, including the social element with the ability to see what everyone else is doing, when they arrive and then building out other interactions.”
Few of those additional capabilities are available now, but the company said it was “prototyping” the tool and relying on industry feedback to develop other innovations that will add value before a full launch later this year.
Brace also says Troop, a PhocusWire Hot 25 Startups 2021 company, is working on bulk booking as an alternative to sending participant invites.
“That's gonna require further conversations with the industry about how we can break down those barriers… But we have had some early discussions with suppliers that they'd be open to getting a booking for 100 people or across their network, which could produce interesting opportunities.”
Asked whether the company would look to introduce venue contracting and booking, executives say they would be looking to like-minded next-gen technology providers to integrate.
"There are already a number of providers offering that."
Troop claims a number of high-profile corporate clients like Mondelez and in 2020 claimed to have tripled its client base through the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The partnership with Spotnana opens the Troop platform to any travel management company that has adopted or is planning to adopt the Spotnana platform.
Spotnana has been tight-lipped about its client base, but CEO Sarosh Waghmar told PhocusWire sister title BTN last month it has “more than single-digits” of TMC partners in the works.
That said, Brace predicted smaller companies, potentially without strong TMC allyships, would be the initial sweetspot for Troop’s booking capabilities because the tool wouldn’t be seen as “disrupting” that relationship.
In 2019 Troop rolled out with Meetings.com venue and travel booking capability that used the Troop interface as a lead-in to the Meetings.com tools. That partnership remains active. The Spotnana partnership is different as the workflows are integrated and the interface is Troop branded.
But it’s not quite ready yet, according to Vilovic.
“We really want to gather some additional feedback—like we’ve always done in the past. The way we developed our product was always very closely based on the feedback of our customers and of people who are supporting us. So we are following the same mechanism here. We have something which works today and we can show. But we want to gather more info and take it from there.”
*This story originally appeared on BTN.