"In the five years prior to the Coronavirus, TripActions grew by 500% every year, and then in one day, everything stopped. In April, our revenue dropped to zero, even below zero and it forced us to recalculate our roadmap. We let go 25% of our staff and moved to a new plan, we moved to fintech," said Ariel Cohen, co-founder of TripActions in a conversation with Meir Orbach during Calcalist's FinTech 2021 Conference.
Cohen said travel-tech and fintech go very much together, just like travel and credit cards go very much together. "During Covid, we launched payment products, personal travel for employees, and expense management for employers - all of these things will grow." TripActions manages business travel and related expenses for companies, and according to Cohen, business travel has already returned to 65% capacity in the U.S. compared to pre-corona times.
"A so far unsolvable issue in travel has been matching between credit details and the booking information. When purchasing a book, a transaction ends as soon as you purchase it, but when you buy a flight a record exists until the flight occurs. Currently, credit details and flight booking have about a 30% match, but through our technological solution we were able to reach 70% and recently we have managed to reach 100%. This is how we got into the field of credit cards. We produce a virtual credit card just for the purpose of this transaction. That's what connected us to fintech," explained Ilan Twig, co-founder of TripActions, who also said that there are endless such problems in the travel and hospitality industries, which is why their company opened an R&D center in Israel.
"There are endless opportunities in the field of travel, such as teams’ travel and gatherings - we assume that teams will want to meet at least once a quarter or once a month - and there are a lot of initiatives we want to bring to the field. I think the R&D center in Israel, both in terms of culture and talent, will be suitable because Israelis like to think differently and in the technological field it is an advantage," he said.
One of the problems faced by companies and employees in the field of business travel is expenses management. "An employee who travels and buys coffee or anything else has to keep the receipt for reimbursement, and so by the end of the month, he has 700 receipts for which he has to get the money back. We solve the problem for him using technology, and we solve a problem for the CFO, because if that employee did not buy coffee, rather something that is forbidden, the system will report it in real-time and not just at the end of the quarter," he said.