Tripconomics is a Singaporean startup founded in October 2012 by a team of four. The service focuses on medium to large sized enterprises with a presence in at least three other countries, that have employees traveling between offices regularly throughout the year chalking up to at least 100 room nights a year in terms of hotel bookings.
Co-founder Keson Lim, who used to be in travel management, said the company does not specifically target businesses with lower requirements. ”Actually, from 2006 to end of 2008, I was [...] helping medium-sized companies manage their travel processes. At that time, we were doing everything manually through e-mail and Excel. At the back of my mind, I’ve always been motivated to streamline it because these were my man hours that were being used up.”
Along the way, he shared that he never quite found the right team. This was not until a few months back when a good team fell into place and they went ahead with the idea. “So it’s to solve a personal pain that I had,” he added.
He told e27 that in the past, large companies with employees traveling regularly would negotiate a corporate rate with a particular hotel. However, sometimes, when there is low demand, the public rate drops and companies do not even bother to try going on sites like Agoda.com to find a better deal.
“The people doing the booking are not incentivised to save money, they are not incentivised to cut costs,” he said.
Keson said that the companies do not realize that roughly 40% of the time, the public rates are actually cheaper than the corporate ones offered.
“As our user base grows, we have more and more companies. Say, company A, B, and C all use about 1,000 room nights a year, but with all of them using our system, we then have a volume of 3,000 room nights to negotiate directly with the hotels. Ideally, that will put us in position to get a better rate than what these three companies could individually get,” he shared.
With commission from the hotels, they have a subscription package available for enterprises – the first three users are free, following which is a flat US$9.99 for an unlimited number of users every month.
“It could work both ways. A central travel manager or administrator could manage and do bookings for everybody, or they could allow access to individual travellers to go in and do their own booking,” he added.
Travel policy compliance is also one feature the web service boasts of. There are guidelines on almost everything, such as whether a particular employee can qualify for a certain hotel, flight or allowance amount.
“We decided on hotels to do first because that was a pain point that we were very familiar with. Secondly, we wanted to perfect one vertical first and after we’ve got it very tightly, then we will introduce other aspects of travel. Next in the pipeline is flight actually.”
With a profile set up, policies and limits will be put in place so whenever a traveler comes online to do a booking, only results that fit with their policies will be shown. “That whole thing about ‘it’s fully booked’ or what not, each time you do a search, we give you so many options and [these] options that we display are what we have checked to be available,” he explained.
Many enterprises are also interested with data analysis. Tripconomics does a pretty good job enabling these companies to see just how they were spending their money on traveling.
“You could sort it by traveler, by business unit, by geography, by country, city, department. You are able to download that report in a CSV format and that gives you a good framework to do a lot of analysis. You can use that to understand spending patterns, forecast and budget for the following year. [...] Say, for example, the sales team is travelling a lot to Kuala Lumpur, and a bit less to Jakarta, but when you look at sales, there’s actually more sales coming out of Jakarta, then you should balance it out a bit. For companies that don’t have our programme, this is actually blind to them.”
They started sales in the middle of January 2013 and in three weeks, they managed to have a user base of eight companies.
“The sales cycle for B2B is a bit longer, getting them to meet you, scheduling an appointment, it takes quite a bit of time,” explained Keson.
He said, “It’s actually very consumer-centric. It’s very user-friendly. We do a brief introduction and if they need us to, we can come down and do a bit of training. There really isn’t much. It doesn’t feel like a traditional enterprise software.”
Keson also shared about his goals for the following year, which is to integrate with two specific platforms — Google Apps and Salesforce.com. He explained that it is “[p]rimarily because of the large B2B business users that they have, and that is our first plan for growing beyond the Singapore shores.”
Image Credit: Getit, Tripconomics