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The Best 10 Corporate Travel Startups to Watch in 2023/2024

Corporate travel is a massive industry worth billions, but it has long been ripe for disruption. Legacy corporate travel management companies (TMCs) have dominated the market for decades with clunky, outdated methods that frustrate both travelers and companies. However, a new wave of innovative travel startups is shaking things up and changing the game.

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These startups are leveraging the latest technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and mobile apps to transform the corporate travel experience. They offer sleek digital solutions that streamline the entire trip management process from booking to reimbursement. This reduces costs and admin work for companies while improving convenience for travelers.

We’ll explore the ten most promising corporate travel startups that are leading innovation and disrupting the status quo. All of these companies have demonstrated tremendous growth and are well-positioned to gain significant market share in the next 1-2 years. Read on to learn about their offerings so you can be ahead of the pack and benefit from the new era of corporate travel tech.

1. TripActions

Founded in 2015, TripActions is one of the largest and most well-funded corporate travel startups. It has raised over $900 million to date from top investors like Benchmark, Sequoia Capital, and IVP.

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TripActions offers a comprehensive corporate travel platform that centralizes and automates the entire trip lifecycle. Key features include:

  • Digital booking tool: Intuitive interface allows employees to easily search, compare, and book flights, hotels, rental cars, and activities all in one place. It integrates with major suppliers.
  • Expense reporting: Uploads receipts automatically and routes expense reports for approval electronically. This simplifies reimbursement.
  • Policy enforcement: Ensures bookings comply with company travel policies to avoid unauthorized spending. Automatically cancels or adjusts non-compliant trips.
  • Traveler tracking: Provides visibility into employee travel itineraries, locations, and emergency contact details for safety and duty of care.
  • Analytics & reporting: Gives real-time spending data and customizable reports to track expenses, savings, and compliance.

Thanks to its powerful yet user-friendly platform, TripActions has become one of the top alternatives to traditional TMCs. With its financial strength and first-mover advantage, it will remain a dominant force in corporate travel tech for years to come.

2. SAP Concur

Founded in 1993, SAP Concur is a corporate travel technology pioneer that was acquired by enterprise software titan SAP in 2014 for $8.3 billion.

Concur offers an integrated travel, expense, and invoice management solution called Concur Travel that combines excellent expense reporting with online booking capabilities. Some key features include:

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  • Digital booking tool integrated with major suppliers for efficient flight, hotel, car rental, and activities bookings.
  • Automatic expense capture via optical character recognition (OCR) of receipts for easy expense reporting.
  • Compliance with company travel policies to prevent non-compliant bookings and expenses.
  • Real-time booking notifications, itinerary delivery, and emergency amenities like flight status tracking for traveler care.
  • Powerful analytics and reporting tools to track bookings, expenses, savings, and compliance over time.

With SAP’s vast resources and customer base backing it, Concur Travel has significant brand recognition and a large global customer base. Its reputation for reliability, security, and support makes it a compelling option for established enterprises.

3. Lola.com

Launched in 2015, Lola focuses specifically on corporate flights with an AI-powered search and booking engine. Some of its notable features include:

  • Smart search: An AI assistant named Claude learns traveler preferences over time to provide personalized flight recommendations optimized for factors like price, schedule, and experience.
  • Flex booking: Enables last-minute booking changes up to 24 hours before departure without penalty, which is handy for unpredictable schedules.
  • Neat receipts: Automatically captures, stores, and shares travel receipts for easy expense reporting.
  • CO2 tracker: Calculates estimated carbon emissions of different flights to help users make greener choices.
  • 24/7 support: Friendly agents are available nonstop over the phone, email, and live chat to resolve issues.

While Lola only handles flights currently, its conversational AI booking experience is a refreshing change from clunky legacy booking tools. As it expands into other travel categories, it will become an even more compelling full-service corporate travel solution.

4. TravelBank

Founded in Australia in 2018, TravelBank is the youngest startup on this list but has gained fast traction through its unique approach to corporate travel spend management. Its key features include:

  • Corporate travel cards: Provides virtual and physical corporate credit cards to pay directly for travel bookings and expenses.
  • Automated expense tracking: Scans card activity and matches receipts to capture, categorize, and allocate travel costs automatically.
  • Real-time spend visibility: Gives a transparent view of available budgets and spending across cost centers and departments in the system.
  • Dynamic approvals: Routes card transactions for approvals electronically based on spend limits and customized workflows.
  • Powerful analytics: Generates detailed customizable reports on travel spending, categories, and compliance with budgets and policies.

By eliminating the need for expense reimbursements, TravelBank streamlines the financial process around corporate travel while enhancing oversight and control. Its scalable system and collaborative approach could make it very popular among growing businesses.

5. Airbnb for Work

Launched in 2017, Airbnb for Work leverages the home-sharing giant’s vast global accommodation inventory for corporate travel needs. Some key features include:

  • Large property selection: Access to Airbnb’s catalog of unique homes, apartments, and boutique hotels worldwide for work trips.
  • Central booking & payments: One-stop booking experience managed through a dedicated Airbnb for Work portal with centralized payments.
  • Traveler profiles: Maintains profiles of employees with preferred settings like non-smoking to ensure suitable listings are suggested.
  • Compliance tools: Restricts bookings to approved areas and suppliers to comply with company policies.
  • Analytics & expenses: Generates reports on bookings, spending, and savings compared to hotels. Supports expense allocation.

By offering an alternative to cookie-cutter hotels, Airbnb for Work enhances the trip experience while potentially saving companies money. As their inventory of professionally managed listings grows, it will attract even more corporate clients.

6. Flywire

Founded in 2011, Flywire built its reputation as a simple payment solution for international students to pay tuition fees from anywhere in over 130 currencies. In recent years, it has expanded to serve businesses through its Flywire for Business product suite.

Flywire for Business offerings include:

  • Expense management platform: Digital tool to book travel, submit receipts, track expenses, and report.
  • Corporate payments: Dedicated payment portals with multi-currency functionality for easy vendor payments, including travel suppliers.
  • Virtual cards: One-time use virtual cards can be generated through the platform for secure travel booking payments.
  • Treasury management: Forex services to convert payments to preferred currencies and deliver funds overseas at transparent rates.
  • Analytics: Dashboards provide oversight on payments, expenses, and cash flows for better financial planning.

By leveraging its deep payments expertise globally, Flywire brings convenience and efficiency to the corporate travel payments process. This narrows a key unmet need in the space.

7. TravelPerk

Founded in 2015, TravelPerk quickly established itself as a leading expense-tracking solution for startups and growing companies. In recent years, it has expanded its offerings with a fully-fledged corporate travel platform.

TravelPerk’s platform features:

  • Flight and accommodation booking engine: Searches major suppliers and uses AI to suggest better deals meeting company policies.
  • Expense tracking: Automatically captures receipts, allocates costs, and streamlines reimbursement workflows.
  • Travel policy management: Ensures travel rules like spend caps and preferred suppliers are followed.
  • Traveler profiles: Stores traveler preferences, frequent flyer details, and contact information.
  • Payment and accounting tools: Integrates with accounting software, issues virtual cards, and handles foreign exchange.
  • Analytics and spend tracking: Provides data insights to monitor spend, savings against targets, and compliance rates.

With growing venture capital funding of over $400 million to date and an increasingly global presence, TravelPerk is expanding rapidly to serve more diverse business travel needs.

8. Upside Business Travel

Founded in 2011, Upside is a pioneering service targeting under-served niches by aggregating deep discount rates from alternative accommodations. In 2015, it launched the Upside Business Travel program, which catered to corporate clients.

Some key features for businesses include:

  • Alternative accommodation selection: Access to unique home rentals, boutique inns, and B&Bs alongside standard hotels.
  • Central booking: Configurable workflows allow employees to book directly or get manager approval, depending on policy.
  • Expense management: Seamlessly captures receipts for easy expense tracking, reporting, and reconciliation.
  • Compliance: Ensures only approved rates and properties from integrated suppliers are displayed to adhere to policies.
  • Savings reports: Demonstrates cost-savings from negotiated rates versus standard hotel prices.

By offering greater choice and promoting sustainable travel, Upside is appealing to ESG-conscious firms. Its alternative options open opportunities in new markets still lacking standard hotel chains.

9. Fyle

Founded in 2015, Fyle is an AI-powered expense management solution headquartered in India. Some of its notable functions include:

  • Automatic receipt capture: Leverages computer vision to extract key details from images of bills and receipts.
  • Real-time expense tracking: Allows entering, submitting, and approving expenses on the go via a mobile app.
  • Automated allocation: intelligently allocates expenses to appropriate cost centers or projects using AI.
  • Streamlined approvals: Electronic approval workflows with configurable rules based on expense amount or type.
  • Insights & analytics: Provides rich reporting and spending analytics to monitor budgets, savings, and more.
  • Integrations: Easily syncs with accounting software, payment gateways, and other travel platforms for a unified experience.

Fyle’s automated yet user-friendly expense system has gained popularity among Asian firms. As it expands globally with multilingual capabilities, more companies will tap its intelligent expense management capabilities.

10. TripWhistle

Launched in 2017, TripWhistle focuses on enhancing the duty of care for global business travelers through a data-driven platform. Its offerings include:

  • Travel registration: Tracks travel schedules, locations, emergency contacts, and custom traveler profiles.
  • Travel alerts: Pushes notifications about security incidents, natural disasters, or flight disruptions near travelers.
  • SOS tools: Offers emergency assistance services like emergency evacuation through partnerships.
  • Reporting portal: Provides visibility into traveler locations and alerts to booking admins and travel managers.
  • Travel risk assessments: Assesses destination safety using Dynamic Risk ratings and advises on travel restrictions.

TripWhistle brings much-needed traveler tracking and emergency response capabilities. With rising geopolitical instability and health crises, its services are becoming increasingly valued for ensuring traveler well-being and regulatory compliance.

That covers the ten most promising corporate travel startups making waves through innovative technologies and business models. While legacy TMCs still dominate enterprise spending, these new players are gaining fast by better addressing the evolving needs of digital nomads and remote workforces. Those adopting their solutions stand to benefit significantly as corporate travel disruption accelerates in the coming years.

FAQ 1: What are the key differences between traditional TMCs and new corporate travel startups?

Traditional TMCs rely on outdated legacy systems and processes, which make booking trips and managing expenses cumbersome. The new startups leverage technologies like AI, automated expense tracking, and mobile apps to offer streamlined digital-first solutions. They provide more choice, convenience, cost savings, and insights compared to older methods.

FAQ 2: Which startup is best for large enterprises versus small businesses?

Startups like Concur and TripActions cater more to large enterprises due to their robust features, global scale, security certifications, and 24/7 support. For SMBs, options like TravelPerk, and TravelBank offer more relevant capabilities at affordable price points with configurations ideal for fewer travelers and flatter approval hierarchies.

FAQ 3: How can companies ensure bookings comply with travel policies?

Most startups have pre and post-booking controls to enforce policies. They only display approved suppliers, room types, and rates during the search. They also support configurable approval workflows, spend limits, and automated cancellations of non-compliant trips. Advanced AI helps detect anomalies and flag potential breaches proactively.

FAQ 4: How can travelers benefit from corporate travel startups?

Startups make booking trips seamless across devices with user-friendly mobile interfaces. Features like receipt scanning, itinerary delivery, and one-click expense tracking save travelers time spent on paperwork. Personalized recommendations and travel assistance enhance the experience. Travelers also earn rewards like loyalty program credits.

FAQ 5: What are some risks of relying on travel startups?

As with any new technology, startup reliability could be a concern in case of outages or security issues initially. Support capabilities may still lag traditional vendors for complex issues. Integration challenges also arise when migrating from legacy systems. However, most startups have robust security, and backup protocols and are continuously enhancing their platforms based on customer feedback to address reliability over time.

 

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