Featured LDFW Contributor: Veleisa Patton Burrell
Traxo, a leader in travel intelligence data, recently announced collaborations with three new travel risk management and duty of care providers: Anvil Group, Drum Cussac, and JESI. The partnerships will allow three organizations to utilize Traxo CAPTURE data aggregation technology to access critical location details for off-channel bookings as an add-on for travel risk management services for corporate clients.
As the company approaches 10 years of business, Traxo CEO and founder Andres Fabris recently spoke to Launch DFW about the importance of keeping customers safe through travel intelligence, tapping into business-to-consumer and business-to-business service needs, protecting clients’ data as breaches become far more common and what trends he is seeing in travel intelligence as Traxo moves toward 2018. (Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity)
Traxo and traveler safety
“With the clients mentioned in the latest release – Anvil Group, Drum Cussac, and JESI – they’re using our technology to help keep travelers safer, which unfortunately in our crazy world has become even more critical, especially for companies and their employees. The risk has created a desire by travelers and companies to know where their people are in case of emergency.
If a company is saying “We’re 60 percent sure we have someone in that region right now” because the employee booked off their system, that’s not good. With our solutions and partnerships, we can help our clients become more certain where an employee is and if they need assistance.”
On servicing B2B and pivoting to B2B
“Traxo has been around since 2008. Essentially, we built a really sophisticated travel organizer. It was a tool that was offered primarily to the consumer, the individual traveler. Our platform can pull in data from thousands of sources and create dashboard out of the info. We pivoted to B2B in 2013 when we landed a very large corporate client who wanted to use our travel data in a way we hadn’t really considered: expense reports. I think expense reports are probably one of the more unpleasant activities in corporate America and so we took almost all of the manual activity out of it. We saw this as a more efficient way to scale a platform like Traxo so we said ‘Let’s do more of that.’ Over the years, the mix shifted from consumer-focused to B2B focus.”
On the evolution of travel technology
“When I started in travel in the mid-1990s, there were five travel websites. Literally. Now there are 10,000 websites to book, research and travel. Just in 20 years there has been a massive increase in the number of places that you and I can shop and book travel. As we take advantage of that choice, we end up with parts of our trips scattered across multiple sites – passwords, points, dates. Our goal with Traxo is to make the traveler’s life easier, to find a way to detect this info automatically and put it an organized and logical layout.
The needs of our clients now, on the corporate side, are just extensions of the original vision. In the early days, we said we could solve all the problems. Over time, we found that our solutions really appeal to a couple of sectors of the market and instead of just waiting for them to come to us, we began to proactively sell to those specific sectors.
Expense is a big sector for us because one of the biggest drivers of expense reports is travel. When someone goes on a business trips, they have to file a report on costs. Risk management and duty of care is another sector. In the past, everyone was supposed to call the corporate travel agency or use the corporate booking tool for flight, car, hotel, etc. Fast forward and now everyone has a smart phone in their pocket with 10, 15 travel apps. Instead of logging into the corporate site or picking up the phone, employees are reaching into their pockets and using the tools they use for leisure bookings for their corporate travel. As that occurs, the companies can’t see where their people are until they’re back and submitting expense reports. So we said let’s give these companies, our clients who are paid to keep people safe, knowledge of where travelers are going to be so they can do their jobs better.
Travel agencies, or travel management companies, use Traxo tech to complete their picture of the traveler. When the travel agency tries to put together their itineraries on a mobile app, they have a blind spot. They are missing about 40 percent, on average, of what has been booked. We cast a wide net to check other reservations and add the info to the mobile application.”
Privacy is paramount
“Concern for our clients’ privacy is built into our culture; it trumps everything else that we do. We knew that we had a responsibility because we have sensitive information. We’ve taken steps to overcompensate from a security standpoint. We encrypt all of the data, regularly do security audits, penetration testings, vulnerability scans of our infrastructure. As you might imagine, with our corporate clients, they have the same concerns and they put us through their same tests.
On the consumer side, we allowed travelers to manage their privacy settings trip by trip or person by person. They could decide which trip was public and which was private. We had restrictions in the system so that users couldn’t share details of their forthcoming trips with a stranger. Even if someone made a mistake, they couldn’t share with a stranger. We designed in ways to prevent a traveler sharing information they didn’t mean to put out there.”
Looking forward to 2018
“2017 has been the most fruitful in terms of partnerships [ex: Anvil Group, Drum Cussac, JESI]. We’ve probably added 25 new partnerships this year alone. 2017 was data and mobile. Now where I see things going, and I almost hate to use this phrase because it’s so overused but it’s relevant for us and our clients, I want to make our applications smarter. I want to put better products in front of the traveler. They shouldn’t have to hunt and peck. I want to know their preferences and then put the best recommendations in front of them.
Many in our industry are focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The issue is that to train artificial intelligence and machine learning you need structure data. That’s helpful for us because we can take the raw material, data, and create contextually relevant data personalized to the individual.
It’s even more important now because in the past, desktops and tablets were the primary tool used to research and travel marketers could afford to not be overly precise and put 10 options on the screen. With mobile phones, there is less screen real estate and there are only three chances to put the right product in front of the traveler. Knowing things like their travel preferences, which Traxo knows across the spectrum of travel sites, is incredibly valuable for the marketer and the traveler. If the travel site knows the traveler’s preferences about hotel brands, price points, geographical preferences, where they stayed before, it all becomes ways of helping travel sites put better product in front of their customers.
When it’s done right, travelers vote with their clicks and conversions. Conversion rates are typically very low; 2 percent is considered a good rate. What we’ve seen when machine learning is applied properly is that the conversion rate more than doubles to the 5 to 6 percent range. We have seen this in our applications and with our 25-30 corporate clients.”
To learn more about Traxo and its business and consumer solutions in travel data intelligence, visit www.traxo.com.