The
BTN Group on Oct. 22 held its 8th annual Innovate in person at
Convene on Liberty St., in the hub of New York’s financial district. This year,
business travel tools and services that engender trust through collaboration
and personalization in the managed travel ecosystem ruled the day.

2021 Business Travel Innovator of the Year

U.K.-based
business travel trip experience startup Grapevine captured the votes of Innovate
judges Steve Clagg, travel technology manager for Microsoft; Jennifer Steinke, global
head of travel for PPD; Susan Lichtenstein, managing partner of DigiTravel
Consulting; and Susan Hopley, CEO of The Data Exchange.

Grapevine’s
artificial intelligence engine fills the gap of managing the in-destination
business travel experience. It’s currently
designed to improve how travel management companies engage with travelers and
drive ancillary booking revenue. It launched in 2019 with a leading U.K.-based
TMC and since has signed partnerships with Advantage Travel Network and WIN
Global Network, also based in the UK. Earlier this month, Grapevine won top
innovation honors at The Business Travel Show Europe.

Grapevine CEO
Jack Dow pointed to the product’s “intelligent and contextual retargeting
for travelers.” He cited the follow scenarios: “Plane delay? Get
lounge access. Heavy traffic? Get an early taxi. The AI is always learning. The
secret sauce is in the AI engine that identifies booking opportunities
throughout the journey.” 

Innovate judges praised Grapevine’s ability to
target and contextualize right-time trip offers. Because it’s run by an AI
engine, TMC agents do not get involved in the process. “But what’s in it
for the traveler?” asked judge Lichtenstein.

Dow replied that the company allows the
traveler to manage his or her own profile to get more personalized recommendations.
Next up, the startup will contemplate how to get loyalty information into the
tool for a more comprehensive understanding of the traveler.

Judges’ final recommendations for Grapevine included
exploring a traveler-focused app that might also be offered directly to the
corporate. “We want to do more than drive revenue for our TMCs,” said
lead judge Steve Clagg.

The People’s Choice

Conference
attendees voted for a separate People’s Choice award-winner, which went to PSNGR1,
a source-agnostic booking tool, designed to help travelers and travel managers
understand business travel in a remote-work world. 

In
addition to displaying disparate content sources—including New Distribution
Capability content—in a single next-generation storefront compatible with ATPCO
requirements, the booking platform offers collaborative trip planning that
allows users to duplicate bookings and add trip events like meals or meetings
to a joint itinerary with individual travel records that are serviced separately
by the TMC.

The
platform also features contract performance tracking, with features that allow
suppliers to offer high-performing clients to access what PSNGR1 CEO Chris Moss
called “microdeals” which could kick in programmatically. Moss additionally
cited the tool’s ‘marketplace’ philosophy that would allow corporates to
connect the platform to their preferred suppliers via application programming
interfaces to create customized business travel ecosystems to meet corporate
requirements. 

“The
level of innovation from our Business Travel Innovator competitors this year
responded to the new challenges and demands emerging for post-pandemic
travel,” said BTN Group executive vice president and group publisher Louis
Magliaro. “We were excited to see these incredible concepts still flowing
into business travel, and we look forward to seeing where new and increasingly
creative problem-solvers will take the industry.” 

He
added, “The event atmosphere and participant attitudes showed how
resilient business travel is and that we are poised for a great comeback.”

Additional
participants in the Innovation Faceoff included Bizly, Blacklane, FCM, HRS,
Hubli, PredictX, Tripbam, U.S. Bank/TravelBank.

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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