If there's any doubt that Deem, as a way forward for its own
corporate revival, is not-so-subtly targeting the industry's dependence on
Concur, one need only look at Deem's announcement of its new software suite to
confirm it. "Let's face it: We all concur that almost everyone finds the
traditional corporate booking tools lacking in many ways," Deem president
and COO John Rizzo says in the company's press release. See what he did there?
The Work Fource platform, which Deem will announce today, targets
the four major corporate travel stakeholder groups: travelers, corporate travel
managers, travel management companies and suppliers. Central to each segment of
the software suite are machine learning, predictive analytics and consumer-style
user experiences and interfaces. "We believe conceptually that if we're
focused on serving and solving the problems of each of the four constituents in
the business travel ecosystem and on doing that without preference or without
penalty to other members of the business travel ecosystem, that we're going to
have a very unique strategy," Rizzo said.
With the platform, Deem is first and foremost asserting a new
commitment to business travel. "We're laser focused on travel, corporate
travel," Rizzo said. "All the other businesses that were … hard to
understand, we're not in anymore." It's a position the company has
clarified over the past nine months as it revamped its executive team, raised
$40 million in capital and acquired
sentiment engine Olset.
But to put travel first, the platform also minimizes the
company's expense product. "We do have our own expense product. We're
going to continue to sell that into the market. We're not walking away from
that at all," said Deem SVP and chief commercial officer Tony D'Astolfo. When
Deem's team assessed the market, he said, there were "70-plus expense
providers" but fewer T&E providers, and Deem wanted to fill that gap.
"We're saying to any expense provider interested in partnering with a
travel application [to] deliver an integrated travel and expense experience: Deem
is now open for business."
Rizzo recognizes that Deem has its work cut out for it as it
confronts an industry stuck in an expense-first state of mind. "The market
has become associated with expense—really big expense, really small travel,"
Rizzo said. "Our point of view is: Travel is the big dog, and expense is
the tail. Our whole strategy is around: How do we find a way to get travelers,
travel managers, travel management companies to make decisions at the time [they're
choosing] what button to push and what flight and hotel to buy—to make the
right one rather than trying to deal with it after-the-fact, because after the
fact, it's way too late."
What to Expect on Deem's New Platform
Deem Road Work for
This portion of Deem's Work Fource is available via mobile
and desktop apps and allows users to plan, book and update trips on an
interface that looks similar to sites like Booking.com or Expedia. It uses
Google ITA content. Intelligent Attach, the same tech that fueled Olset,
ensures that booking search results combine travel policy with traveler
preferences, historical traveler behavior and sentiment data to provide
personalized hotel recommendations. Other features include proactive, automatic
check-in for flights and link-ups to calendars that will update automatically
if flights are changed.
Deem Clock Work for
corporate travel managers
Clock Work provides tools to drive compliance, including a
policy-building engine, automated ticket exchange and Intelligent Attach, which
gives travel managers insight into whether a traveler's itinerary includes a
Deem Book Work for
travel management companies
The travel management company portion of Work Fource also
uses Intelligent Attach to ensure TMCs know when they're missing out on
commissions for hotels that were booked off channel. Also included within the
TMC tools are a passenger name record editor and a dynamic messaging feature
that allows TMCs to put real-time alerts into the travel platform.
Deem Net Work for
This portion of Deem's software suite provides application
programming interfaces and services that allow air, hotel, rail, ground and car
service providers to market products and services in the platform.
Despite ongoing industry
complaints about Concur's travel product, it continues to hold a significant
market share among online booking tools, thanks to its dominance in the
travel expense management marketplace. According to a report last April from
research firm Gartner, Concur had captured more than 75 percent of travel
expense management market share among IT and financial buyers.
"When you're selling a booking tool to a travel
manager, most times you're likely dealing with individuals who are part of a
finance organization, a procurement organization or even HR,” said Shari
Quackenbush, strategic travel sourcing professional for IBM, which uses Concur
for both travel and expense. "But when you're selling expense to large
corporations, you're likely dealing with a different group of people. I’d say
Concur is pretty effective at selling to that group of people, and now that
they're part of SAP, they have an even stronger entry into that type of buyer.”
challengers coming into the expense space, however, some management
professionals who oversee both expense and travel are looking for new options. "Concur
is a great tool and they dominate the marketplace, but not often do you get
some of the flexibility and innovation that I feel my travelers are yearning
for," said Dycom Industries corporate travel manager Jennifer Steinke. At
previous companies, she used Concur for T&E, but at Dycom, she chose
Certify for expense because it proved to be nimble, cost-effective and
When it came time to choose a booking tool for Dycom,
Steinke had the option to use Concur Travel or Short's Travel Online from Short's
Travel Management. She opted for STO in order to mirror the customizable
experience she had achieved with Certify. "I hear all the time that Concur
Travel is just not in that user-friendly, happy place."
That "happy place" is where Deem would like to be.
More on Deem's Plans
Deem's sales strategy is to work with small and midsize clients
through reseller agreements and to sell directly to Fortune 1,000 companies,
including those with multinational or global footprints. "Companies that
take a best-of-breed approach to travel technology are our best targets,"
said D'Astolfo. "They understand the investment we’ve made in the travel
platform and our Open Expense approach, which allows them to manage their
dollars as well as their data without sacrificing the traveler experience."
The company is in production in over 20 countries, and clients
used the platform in 61 countries last year, according to Rizzo. Deem also now supports
15 languages. "If someone says they have a multinational or global
program, we're ready to take that on," D'Astolfo said.
As for new partnerships, he said Deem is still
working with a few partners to resolve any technical snags, but "Open
Expense announcements are likely to begin in the next few months."