Innovate Faceoff Notebook: Troop Tops, TripBam People’s Choice

Judges at BTN Group’s 9th Annual Innovate Conference awarded top honors to meeting management travel platform Troop, while inaugural Innovate winner TripBam received top praise from attendees.

The judging panel for the October 24 event: Microsoft Travel Technology Manager Steve Clagg; Travel Tech Consulting President Norm Rose; Takeda Global Head of Travel, Meetings & Events Michelle De Costa; and last year’s winner, Grapevine CEO and founder Jack Dow, voted Troop Most Innovative out of dozens of companies demonstrating their products at BTN’s Business Travel Innovation Faceoff.

Rose said Troop has come “a long way” since first seeing CEO Dennis Vilovic present at the Phocuswright conference in 2019 and that changes in business meeting trends following the subsequent Covid-19 pandemic have intensified the relevance of Troop.

“We have all these remote workers who need to meet in remote locations, so it’s really driving a new model for group planning,” Rose said.

Troop, which Vilovic said has grown from six to 40 employees over the last year, has created a technology platform that leverages data sources to help companies determine and plan meeting venues. It weighs variables such as employee location, direct flight availability, total travel time, visa requirements, Covid-19 restrictions, and carbon emissions from flights to show the most logical destination for all attendees. .

“In the end, we are democratizing meeting management,” Vilovic said in his presentation. “Today, everyone has become a meeting planner, and people are planning meetings who have never planned meetings before, specifically small meetings.”

Even for experienced meeting managers, the manual planning process can often end in a “meeting based on bad decisions,” he said. For example, a client was planning a meeting and intended to bring everyone to his headquarters, but moving that meeting to a location on another continent cut employee travel time by 10 percent, Vilovic said.

The judging panel wanted to “see more integration with the rest of the planning cycle, which [they] do on some level,” Rose said. Earlier this year, Troop started a live connection with business travel technology provider Spotnana that can facilitate hotel reservations, and flight reservations are being finalized, Vilovic said. to BTN.Troop is also working with corporate cards and spending platform provider Center, he said.Troop, Spotnana and Center all belong to Steve Singh’s Madrona Venture Group.

In addition, Troop is working to expand carbon emissions data used for decision planning to go beyond flights as part of its partnership with Thrust Carbon, Vilovic said.

People’s Choice Award

TripBam, which won the judges’ award at the first Innovate in 2013 for its initial hotel rate shopping platform, returned to the winner’s circle this year as the People’s Choice Award, garnering the most votes from attendees. A mainstay on Faceoff over the years, TripBam demonstrated its hotel and airline contract auditing capabilities this year.

“We take all of your contracts, airline and hotel, digitize them, import them into the system, and verify each reservation as it comes into the system for the buy-back process,” TripBam CEO Steve Reynolds said in his presentation. “When we find an issue, we store it in a database and provide a dashboard, where you can see the results of that analysis in real time, so it’s continuous auditing.”

The lost savings opportunities can be huge, he said. For hotels, the process can identify whether it includes negotiated amenities, missing chain-wide discounts or other contracting issues, which can add up to millions of dollars depending on the size of the hotel program, Reynolds said. On the airline side, she has identified issues like a certain fare class not getting a discount on a key route or missing a discount at a certain country point of sale, which also equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars lost, she said. .

“You can see, at your fingertips, all the terms and conditions of the offers and find a problem quickly,” Reynolds said. “Without this system, no one would know that any of this was happening.”

The judging panel also named TripBam one of two Faceoff honorable mentions, along with Amadeus, which demonstrated the integration of its Cytric booking and spend tool into the Microsoft 365 suite of tools.

“I think the possibilities are limitless in this product and what it can do for travel management,” De Costa said of TripBam. “We work very hard on these contracts, down to a percentage point on a class of service or type of hotel rate, so having that information exposed allows you to take action on it.”

De Costa added that the judges didn’t see “a lot of weaknesses” in TripBam’s audit bid, but that they would like to see it move away from the dashboard self-service model and more towards sending notifications, “to let us know where to take action and what’s happening”.

The other participants in this year’s Faceoff included:

  • BTP Automationthat fully automates the hotel supply system
  • Coupa Travel and expenseswhich demonstrated the integrated platform created from the acquisition of Pana
  • Ghent Travelshowcasing its Gant Together offering that integrates meeting booking and invitation tools
  • hiltonwhich has added automated upgrade capabilities to its Hilton Honors loyalty program
  • HOURSthat has integrated the Paypense expense management platform into its HRS Pay expense management platform
  • Jyrneythe ground transport mobility platform that won top honors from the judges at the Faceoff at Business Travel Show in London earlier this year
  • Simardthe technology provider developing solutions around Winding Tree’s blockchain-based decentralized travel marketplace
  • 3sixtywhich has aggregated over a million vetted accommodation options on a platform that leverages machine learning to display the best options for guests
  • unlocked datathat consolidates data from travel management companies, expense tools, corporate cards, human resources and finance

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