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Tripism's founder and CEO Adam Kerr talks:
First piloted six years ago to serve as the corporate travel intranet for Microsoft, Tripism since has expanded into a travel planning and engagement provider for a range of large companies. The platform enables travelers to share reviews and local destination information with their colleagues while providing a channel for suppliers to communicate information about their offerings directly to travelers.
The Covid-19 pandemic raised the salience of both functions amid a surge in demand for information about supplier safety and cleanliness standards and protocols. Building on that new post-pandemic demand, Tripism in May signed a deal with travel management company BCD Travel to access booking data in order to deliver automated review solicitations to travelers upon completion of a trip.
Tripism founder and CEO Adam Kerr recently spoke with BTN payments and technology editor Adam Perrotta to discuss how connecting travelers with each other and with suppliers could benefit all stakeholders, including travel managers. An edited transcript follows.
BTN: With very little travel happening during the past 16 months, what were Tripism's main priorities and objectives? What enhancements to the platform did you make?
Adam Kerr: The first priority was survival. Tripism is a technology platform above all, which means we're not reliant on high-touch customer interactions. We focused on providing Covid safety information in context so that travelers didn’t need to look for an additional source of information. We worked hard alongside the supplier partners to bring their Covid safety information directly to the travelers. We continued to focus on taking the load off our corporate clients’ in-house teams by organizing and presenting key data through the Tripism platform in a more efficient, cost-effective way than can be achieved with high-touch TMC-type processes.
BTN: Did you grow your client base during that time?
Kerr: With travel at a standstill, more companies questioned the value of running a standalone, in-house travel intranet, and reached out to Tripism to manage their travel data for them. Eventually we added new customers, and in 2021 more corporations use Tripism than ever before.
BTN: How do you think corporate travelers' post-Covid demands will change, particularly in terms of what Tripism might be able to provide by serving as a company's travel intranet?
Kerr: Business travel has not gone away. In fact, our customers are telling us that the need to reconnect in person with customers, suppliers and partners is greater than ever.
Tripism presents information in context, so the information I need as traveler for traveling to New York for example, is easy to access: preferred hotels, Covid information, colleagues' recommendations and feedback on Covid safety protocols. The reality on the ground is what matters to travelers, and Tripism complements the information provided by travel suppliers with from-the-field reports made by business travelers for business travelers.
BTN: What about travel managers? With corporate duty of care widely expected to be emphasized heavily post-pandemic, how are you helping them fulfill that responsibility?
Kerr: Traveler engagement and communication has never been more important. The pandemic brought that to the forefront. The complexity of information to be communicated to travelers, and the rate at which this information needs to be updated, has never been greater. Company intranets no longer are able to do that, and it’s frustrating for travelers when the information that they need is scattered across multiple tools and sources, which makes it difficult and time-consuming to find and [potentially means it's] missed altogether.
So Tripism is using technology to bring in information and personalized content from multiple sources and partners. We make sense of the information and present highly specific, relevant and personalized information to travelers. We're doing that on multiple levels. Examples would be where we work with the customer's existing duty-of-care provider and bring this information to the traveler in context. We're working with the supplier partners to present the important information to travelers, and we're providing information at property level, highlighting Covid-safe hotels to travelers.
So now travel teams have a new superpower; by driving a step change in increased traveler engagement by using Tripism, and by the new ability to have personalized information from multiple sources, travel teams are confident they can fulfill their duty-of-care obligations.
At the same time as duty of care, sustainability is also incredibly important to our customers and partners; it’s another layer of information to be communicated. Tripism is enabling this for customers [by] highlighting green hotels [and] preferencing green hotels over less sustainable choices.
The complexity of information to be communicated to travelers, and the rate at which this information needs to be updated, has never been greater. Company intranets no longer are able to do that.”
BTN: What about suppliers? In the past you've discussed the notion of Tripism serving as a conduit for suppliers to connect with travelers. Has that communication channel become even more important post-Covid?
Kerr: Absolutely. This is definitely a key area where the industry has historically fallen well short. Legacy tools and infrastructure have been hopeless, limited to generic images, and pricing and suppliers have been forced to produce PDFs for travel teams to put on the intranet.
Through Tripism, supplier partners can provide a much better, more personalized service to the most important segment of their customers. Making sure that travelers have the right information—especially Covid safety information—helps build traveler confidence, and a return to travel is more important than ever for everyone.
BTN: Tripism recently partnered with BCD Travel to offer new functionality around the integration of traveler data between the two platforms. What new capability does this offer to clients and travelers?
Kerr: There are two key pieces to the partnership. First, Tripism is now able to access the BCD partner APIs, which will enable a smoother review and feedback process within Tripism for BCD customers. Tripism can access previous trip data and ask travelers for a review or feedback on their flight or hotel stay. Customers have the option to use Tripism to ask additional survey questions; right now most are specific Covid safety questions like what safe travel provisions are in place.
These reviews are a huge help to other travelers and also invaluable feedback for travel teams as they build stronger relationships with their supplier partners. Increasingly common are questions about green protocols that travel operators have committed to.
Secondly, as a [BCD marketplace] SolutionSource partner, the BCD teams are introducing Tripism to their existing clients.
BTN: Speaking of third-party partnerships, do you view that route as a path to further growth, for instance by partnering with TMCs to resell Tripism to their clients, or integrating into booking tools, as opposed to going directly to corporates?
Kerr: Tripism is first of all a technology business that gives companies and their supplier partners the platform to provide a high-quality travel experience to the millions of employees that travel for work. But we also believe there is the opportunity to benefit the industry as a whole, by standardizing the ways in which key information is provided to travelers by their employers and supplier partners.
Tripism makes the supplier-client relationship much more efficient, ensures timely information is available in a usable, easy to access form for travelers, and helps companies promote best practice for their travelers. Business travel has long needed a market-wide platform to trigger the modernization of this industry, and our goal is for Tripism to be that spark.
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