COVID-19 has put a halt to large meetings and events, but
behind the scenes many of the companies and people that produce such
experiences are busier than ever.
That’s been good news for startup Troop Travel, winner of
the Summit Award for Innovation at The Phocuswright Conference 2019.
Founded in 2017, Troop Travel aggregates thousands of data
points, enabling corporate travel managers and meeting planners to select event
destinations based on objective intelligence rather than just opinion.
The startup initially focused on optimizing destination
selection based on cost, travel time and carbon footprint. Now it is adding
additional functions to surface safety and security information.
In tandem with those updates, Troop Travel has doubled its
staff (from three to seven) and nearly tripled its number of Fortune 500
customers, from just four in December to 11 as of today, with “several more in
the pipeline,” according to founder Dennis Vilovic.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
“What we’ve realized is that with COVID-19, the question of ‘where
do we meet’ becomes extremely important. It’s not only cost any more, it’s duty
of care, the risk side that becomes part of the equation,” Vilovic says.
“When you run analysis on our platform, the results are
based on data, and data creates confidence and that’s something that is very
important right now.”
And with most business travel halted, companies and planners
are spending more time on strategy and redesigning their corporate policies and
systems. In fact, Vilovic says rather than buying a license to Troop Travel,
many new customers are buying “development projects” – working with the startup’s
team to development new features that will be useful as group travel resumes.
Already Troop Travel has added a COVID-19 data layer that
filters destinations based on daily-updated infection rates and travel
restrictions. It has also added functions for hybrid meetings, where there is a
need to select multiple destinations for small groups of people to gather and
connect all via technology.
Originally Troop Travel only included flights as a transport
option. Now it has added ground transportation, so planners creating local or
regional meetings can select destinations based on the least time-consuming transportation
options for participants.
Next Vilovic says the startup is creating functions to map
the entire travel journey and identify risks at every step of the process.
“Historically risk was mainly defined by the destination. Now
risk is defined by every decision you take in your travel. How are you getting
to airport – is it rideshare? Car? All these things have a different risk level,”
“And then we are working with suppliers to find out what
they are doing at different steps so we can create a risk profile.”
In addition to working with global corporations, Vilovic
says he has recently had an uptick in interest from travel management
companies, airline alliances, hotel groups and destinations.