Doug Anderson, Amex GBT
"Most of the startups making the news today are basically offering pretty‐looking, B2C mobile booking interfaces."
Quote from Doug Anderson, CEO of American Express Global Business Travel, from his In The Big Chair interview on PhocusWire this week.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
The number of startups targeting the corporate travel market in recent years is interesting. It is a sector full of pain points and frustration for business travelers and those trying to manage their spend and safety in a consistent way.
There are many folks out there: Lola.com, TravelBank, TravelPerk, TripActions to name just a few, with the view that they can solve some of the problems, for the most part by targeting the experience of the road warriors.
The sector has ignited interest from the investment community with huge rounds going into some of these businesses and the words of the Amex GBT boss come from someone who has been in the business of business travel for some years.
Doug Anderson knows how complex the processes are, how thin the margins can be, the lack of integrated systems and the implications of duty of care.
Perhaps his words are cautionary for the startups themselves as well as the wider business travel community.
There could even be a little envy there at how quickly these new entrants are able to move.
Or perhaps Anderson doesn’t believe he’s seeing anything that new and innovative.
There isn’t really any right or wrong here. The investment community sees room for disruption in a massive market and the startups are seeing some traction.
In business travel, people often talk of going after the huge but elusive unmanaged travel market that is small- to medium-sized enterprises.
And, it would seem like the newcomers are gaining some traction in this market as well as in the new media/digital companies whose workforce is often largely made up of millennials.
How quickly they might attract business from larger, more traditional companies remains to be seen.
That said, the pie is large, so even a small percentage of a big thing can be lucrative.
The challenge for incumbents and newbies will be to keep labor costs down by finding innovative digital ways to provide travelers with the support they need when they’re on the go and, especially during disruptions.
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