Mtg. Planning Platform Troop Books It with Spotnana

Two next-generation travel tech providers—joined at the hip
by a shared investor pedigree that both include Steve Singh’s Madrona Venture
Group—are collaborating to automate meeting location selection and travel
booking technologies into a single string for both corporates and travel
management companies.

Troop, which since 2017 has aimed to automate the meeting
selection process through use of big data strategies that will look at cost,
time to location and carbon emissions vectors to find the most efficient
meeting location based on the origin of the meeting participants, has not yet
offered its own travel booking extension of that sourcing exercise. Through a partnership
with business travel technology provider Spotnana, however, that next step is
on its way via a “soft launch” at the Global Business Travel Association
convention in San Diego.


It’s not just about the transaction. It’s about adding value in that booking and fulfillment piece.”

Troop’s Spencer Brace


“We are solving the planning piece” through the big-data
sourcing platform, said co-founder and CEO Vilovic. “It’s just natural—as well
as a customer request, actually—that people want to book the travel, which is simpler
and more transactional [than our planning platform]… so I think it’s just a
very natural progression for us here.”

The booking interface is called
Troop powered by Spotnana and company executives told BTN that for now the
booking mechanism works by triggering travel invites to the meeting
participants with a link to book the pre-configured itinerary upon which the
sourcing estimate was based, whether that was optimized for cost, time or
carbon efficiency.

While the tool will offer
settings that allow the meeting participant to change the optimized itinerary, it
also bakes in an awareness of how the individual booking has a domino effect on
the group if changes are made.

“The individual will actually be
aware of the impact of their changes toward the group, which then, in the end,
drives behavior. They realize with this kind of setup, there’s [ground]
transport already organized for four people, so if they change their flight,
the organizers will have to plan additional transport just for them. So, I
think those things are quite exciting,” said Vilovic.

The group booking view is part of
the ‘social’ capabilities that Troop hopes to build into the tool that executives
said will take the value of the booking beyond the transaction.

“It’s not just about the
transaction,” said head of growth strategy Spencer Brace. “It’s about adding
value in that booking and fulfillment piece, including the social element with
the ability to see what everyone else is doing, when they arrive and then
building out other interactions.” Few of those additional capabilities are
available now, but the company said it was “prototyping” the tool and relying
on industry feedback to develop other innovations that will add value before a
full launch later this year.

Brace also said Troop was working on bulk booking as an
alternative to sending participant invites. “That’s gonna require further
conversations with the industry about how we can break down those barriers… But
we have had some early discussions with suppliers that they’d be open to
getting a booking for 100 people or across their network, which could produce
interesting opportunities.”

Asked whether the company would look to introduce venue contracting and booking, executives said they would be looking to like-minded next-gen technology providers to integrate. “There are already a number of providers offering that,” they said.

Troop claims a number of
high-profile corporate clients like Mondelez and in 2020 claimed to have
tripled its client base through the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The
partnership with Spotnana opens the Troop platform to any travel management
company that has adopted or is planning to adopt the Spotnana platform.
Spotnana has been tight-lipped about its client base, but CEO Sarosh Waghmar told
BTN last month it has “more than single-digits” of TMC partners in the works.

That said, Brace predicted
smaller companies, potentially without strong TMC allyships, would be the initial
sweetspot for Troop’s booking capabilities because the tool wouldn’t be seen as
“disrupting” that relationship.

In 2019 Troop rolled out with
Meetings.com venue and travel booking capability that used the Troop interface
as a lead-in to the Meetings.com tools. That partnership remains active. The
Spotnana partnership is different as the workflows are integrated and the
interface is Troop branded.

But it’s not quite ready yet,
emphasized Vilovic. “We really want to gather some additional feedback—like
we’ve always done in the past. The way we developed our product was always very
closely based on the feedback of our customers and of people who are supporting
us. So we are following the same mechanism here. We have something which works
today and we can show. But we want to gather more info and take it from there.”

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