A next generation solution to travel-management issues

New innovator: Travaplan makes it easier to plan, book and manage corporate travel

Colm Fitzpatrick and Lewis McMahon joined forces  to develop Travaplan, a web and mobile-based travel management platform

Colm Fitzpatrick and Lewis McMahon joined forces to develop Travaplan, a web and mobile-based travel management platform

 

Footing the bill for globe-trotting employees can be expensive as well as time consuming to administer. To lighten the load, large corporates often use travel management companies. However, with their transaction fees sometimes costing more than a flight with a budget airline, cost-conscious companies are increasingly booking direct. On the one hand this saves money; on the other it makes harder to keep tabs on spending.

Having experienced these issues at first hand, seasoned business travellers Lewis McMahon and Colm Fitzpatrick joined forces last June to develop Travaplan, a web and mobile-based travel management platform.

“Travaplan is a next generation travel management solution that makes it easy for people to plan, book and manage their trips,” Lewis McMahon says. “It enables autonomous business travel by making direct booking convenient while also delivering the controls companies need to maintain travel policy compliance and provide transparency around who is travelling and at what cost. Millennials make up about 50 per cent of business travellers and most of them have never used a travel agent in their lives so we also wanted to give them a solution to make their business travel easier.”

The value of the global business travel market is currently estimated at over €1 trillion a year and McMahon says corporate travel can be something of a black hole for companies if they don’t have full visibility and control over their travel spend. “Travaplan lets organisations see who is travelling where and at what cost, regardless of how the travel is booked,” he says. “This service will be of interest to any business that books over 70 per cent of its travel directly and/or spends over €500k a year on travel and wants to know exactly where the money is going.”

Fitzpatrick is an engineer and businessman who clocked up over a million air miles in the three years prior to setting up Travaplan. McMahon, also an engineer, is a seasoned entrepreneur who started his first business, Ocuco (optical software), in 1993, followed six years later by IT company Storage Online.  

“Like many people, we have been organising travel for both business and leisure for many years and knew, as users, how frustrating it can be to deal with corporate policies and travel management companies,” McMahon says. “When we started developing the platform we were focused on leisure groups. Then we started to get interest from businesses, particularly those who were frustrated with their existing service providers and had moved to booking their travel directly. Travel management companies have been slow to adapt their legacy technology and this has opened the door for disruptive startups like Travaplan.”

McMahon says that while some of the bigger travel management companies have woken up to the changing market, they are continuing to charge a fee for every booking and they don’t always provide a great choice of flight and accommodation options. “Businesses booking directly often find they can get better connections, room rates and fares online,” McMahon says. “People are now familiar with easy-to-use consumer sites like skyscanner and booking.com.  This is what we’re aiming to be for the business traveller.”

Travaplan is free to use and the company will make its money from affiliate partners such as skyscanner and booking.com. The product is currently in Beta testing with a group of companies with a combined annual travel budget of over €20 million. McMahon estimates the potential revenue for Travaplan from this group at around €300,000.

Investment in Travaplan to date has been in the order of €100,000 with €70,000 coming from the founders and the rest from the NDRC where the company is based. “If you add the time myself and Colm have invested, then you’re at over €400,000,” McMahon says. The company is now looking to raise around €750,000 to fund its launch into the US in 2019.

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