Business travel, currently at a point of immense disruption, is worth more than €1 trillion worldwide. Within this pot we find managed, and unmanaged, travel.
The former sees a dedicated company employee tasked with handling all aspects of travel, though they are a dying breed.
The latter – which sees individual employees handle their own business travel often through arduous company compliance processes – is booming. It's also adding layers of complication to employees, many of whom are millennials, not used to dealing with travel agents – and causing a lot of companies headache.
Lewis McMahon and Colm Fitzpatrick know this only too well and, after Colm – who has held CEO positions at a number of international companies – racked up one million air miles in just three years, the duo had had enough.
“As users, we know how frustrating it can be to deal with corporate policies and travel management companies,” said Lewis.
“The vast majority of business trips within Europe are short stays, meaning arduous booking procedures make even less sense.”
It should be ‘just book it and go’, according to Lewis and Colm, however they argue that the current messy processes undergone at businesses all over the world are supported by the travel industry.
It is not up to the travel industry to make this process simple, quite the opposite, as confusion makes these companies money.
“Myself and Colm go to the European Rugby Championship final every year with a few others,” said Lewis.
“First of all, we have to all agree on how we are going to get there and where we are going to stay. One of us books the flights, another books the accommodation and someone else books the car hire.
“We then have to work out who owes who and transfer money into various bank accounts. There was a lot of work involved and we thought, ‘there has to be a better way’. So we starting developing TravaPlan.”
Travel management companies are like banks and Travaplan is like a fintech startup, intent on disrupting the payments industry- Colm Fitzpatrick, TravaPlan
Travel management companies are slow to adapt their legacy technology to accommodate this change and this has opened the door for startups like TravaPlan, with disruptive technology, to grab a slice of this very large market.
TravaPlan’s automated approval system reduces the time taken to book travel, saving businesses both time and money. Using the tool, the travelers’ itinerary is now live on their device, assisting them as they travel. This provides a level of autonomy, without employees going it alone.
“In many ways the travel management companies are like banks and Travaplan is like a fintech startup, intent on disrupting the payments industry,” said Colm.
Any business which books more than 70 per cent of its travel directly, or spends more than €500,000 a year on travel, should want visibility on how it is spent. A free tool, TravaPlan does just this.
Both engineers by profession, Lewis is an entrepreneur through and through, with TravaPlan his third startup to date. He co-founded Ocuco, an opticians software company, in 1993, before rounding out the millennium with the founding of Storage Online, the latter sold off two years ago.
The company is targeting more than 120 businesses in Ireland and the UK, with the aim to get them using TravaPlan by the end of 2018. Then? Crack America, one flight at a time.