Novelty Faceoff Notebook: Troop Tops, TripBam People’s Choice

At BTN Group’s 9th annual Innovate conference, the judges praised troop, the travel meeting management platform, while TripBam, the inaugural Innovate winner, received top awards from attendees.

The panel of judges for the October 24 event—Microsoft travel technology manager Steve Clagg; Norm Rose, president of Travel Tech Consulting; Michelle De Costa, global head of travel, meetings and events at Takeda; and Jack Dow, CEO and founder of Grapevine, last year’s winner, selected Troop as the most innovative among dozens of companies showcasing their products at BTN’s Business Travel Innovation Faceoff.

Rose said Troop has come “a long way” since CEO Dennis Vilovic first attended the Phocuswright conference in 2019, and changes in business meeting trends since the subsequent Covid-19 pandemic have reinforced Troop’s relevance.

“We have all these remote employees who have to come together in remote locations, so it’s really driving a new model for group scheduling,” Rose said.

It has grown from six to 40 employees over the past year, Vilovic said, building a technology platform that uses data sources to help companies schedule and schedule meetings. It measures variables such as employee locations, direct flight availability, total travel times, visa requirements, Covid-19 restrictions and carbon emissions for flights to show the most logical destination for all participants.

“Ultimately, we are democratizing meeting management,” Vilovich said in his presentation. “Today, everyone has become a meeting planner, and people are planning meetings, especially small meetings, that never planned meetings before.”

Even for experienced meeting managers, the manual scheduling process can often result in a “meeting based on poor decisions.” For example, one client was planning a meeting and intended to bring everyone to its headquarters, but moving the meeting to a location on another continent reduced employees’ travel time by 10 percent, Vilovic said.

The jury “wanted to see further integration with the rest of the planning cycle [they] Earlier this year, Troop launched a live connection with business travel technology provider Spotnana that can facilitate hotel bookings and flight bookings, Vilovic told BTN. Troop also works with corporate cards and expenses. Platform provider Central, he said.Top, Spotnana and Central are all under Steve Singh’s Madrona Venture Group.

Additionally, as part of its partnership with Thrust Carbon, Troop is working to expand the carbon emissions data used to plan decisions to move beyond flights, Vilovic said.

People’s Choice Award

TripBam, which won the judges’ award at the first Innovate in 2013 for its original hotel rates shopping platform, returned to the winner’s circle this year as the People’s Choice award, garnering the most votes from attendees. TripBam, a mainstay at Faceoff over the years, demonstrated its hotel and airline contract auditing capabilities this year.

“We take all of your contracts, airlines and hotels, digitize them, import them into the system, and verify that each reservation is entered into the system for the repair process,” TripBam CEO Steve Reynolds said in his presentation. “When we find a problem, we create a database of it and provide a dashboard where you can see the results of that analysis in real time, so it’s a continuous audit.”

The missed savings opportunities could be huge, he said. Reynolds said the process for hotels can determine whether to include negotiated terms, non-applicable chain discounts or other contractual issues that can add up to millions of dollars depending on the size of the hotel program. On the airline side, it identified issues such as a certain fare class not getting a discount on a main route or a point-of-sale discount missing from a certain country, which equated to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

“You can see all the terms for deals at your fingertips and you can quickly find a problem,” Reynolds said. “Without this system, no one would know it happened.”

The jury also named TripBam as one of two honorable mentions at Faceoff, alongside Amadeus, which demonstrated the integration of its Cytric booking and expense tool into the Microsoft 365 suite of tools.

“I think the possibilities are endless with this product and what it can do for travel management,” De Costa said of TripBam. “We work hard on these contracts, down to the percentage point by service class or hotel rate type, so releasing this information allows you to take action on it.”

De Costa added that the judges didn’t point out “too many weaknesses” in TripBam’s audit proposal, but they wanted to see its dashboard move away from a self-service model and do more to push notifications, “telling us where to take” action and what’s going on. “

Other participants in this year’s Faceoff:

  • BTP automationit fully automates the hotel search engine
  • Coupa Travel and ExpenseIt showcased the integrated platform built after the acquisition of Pana
  • Gant Travelshowcases the Gant Together offering, which combines meeting invitation and booking tools
  • HiltonHilton Honors has added automated upgrade capabilities to its loyalty program
  • HRShas integrated the expense management platform Paypense into the HRS Pay expense management platform
  • Jyrneya ground transport mobility platform that won top awards from the judges at the Faceoff Business Travel Show in London earlier this year
  • SimardA technology provider developing solutions around Winding Tree’s blockchain-based decentralized travel marketplace
  • 3 Sixtyhas combined more than a million verified accommodation options on a platform that taps into machine learning to show the best options for guests
  • Unlocked DataIntegrating travel management companies, expense tools, corporate cards, human resources and financial information.