Bite with the Ed­i­tor

Business Traveller (Africa) - - CONTENTS - Philip Katz CEO: TRAVELIT Barry Paint­ing CIO: TRAVELIT

Philip Katz – CEO: Travelit Barry Paint­ing – CIO: Travelit

The guys at Tour­vest’s Travelit be­lieve the new app they’ve de­vel­oped is some­thing unique and ground-break­ing in a South African con­text, so ed­i­tor Dy­lan Rogers popped into their of­fices in Johannesburg for a demon­stra­tion, with CEO Philip Katz and CIO Barry Paint­ing more than will­ing to oblige.

“You've got to take off bite-sized chunks and keep eat­ing,” says Paint­ing.

That's what Paint­ing, Katz and their de­vel­op­ment team have dis­cov­ered since em­bark­ing on the Travelit app de­vel­op­ment jour­ney roughly nine months ago. The goal, at that time, was sim­ply to develop an app off the back of their ex­ist­ing on­line travel man­age­ment so­lu­tion, with all the re­search point­ing to this as the next step in the evo­lu­tion of Travelit's cor­po­rate travel tech of­fer­ing.

“We're just fol­low­ing global trends,” says Katz, with he and Paint­ing spend­ing time abroad to see what those trends were.

“At the be­gin­ning of last year, all any­one was talk­ing about was apps,” says Paint­ing. “Now, this year it's moved on to Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence and Ma­chine Learn­ing, al­though apps re­main hugely top­i­cal.”

So, what was the over­all goal? Well, quite sim­ply, to develop the app and mi­grate all 360,000 of their ex­ist­ing Travelit cus­tomers to the new plat­form. And they've got off to a good start, with Katz and Paint­ing claim­ing that roughly 1,000 cus­tomers signed up in the first three weeks. The ul­ti­mate goal is to have all of Travelit's ex­ist­ing cus­tomers signed up be­fore the end of the year.

“We wanted to cre­ate a seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence for our cus­tomers,” says Katz. “But the whole travel process is quite bitty and drawn-out, so we wanted to spoon-feed them as much as pos­si­ble. We re­alised that the eas­i­est way to do this was to cre­ate an app that fit­ted prop­erly into our book­ing plat­form.”

So, how to do that?

A good start­ing point was Katz and Paint­ing draw­ing on their own ex­pe­ri­ence as busi­ness trav­ellers and iden­ti­fy­ing all the dif­fer­ent touch­points along the cor­po­rate travel jour­ney that might re­quire a tech­ni­cal so­lu­tion and pro­vide for the in­te­gra­tion into an app. And then to build some­thing that was user-friendly for its cus­tomers, with a fo­cus – like all mod­ern day, rel­e­vant on­line so­lu­tions – on pro­duc­ing some­thing that re­quired as fewer ‘clicks' as pos­si­ble.

And the app it­self, which works for both Ap­ple and An­droid, and is only avail­able to ex­ist­ing Travelit cus­tomers?

Well, it starts with the trav­eller's pro­file and that cov­ers ev­ery­thing from per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and con­tact details to pref­er­ences, loy­alty num­bers, policy group, card in pocket, and copies of ID, pass­port, visa, vac­ci­na­tion and car li­cence doc­u­ments.

Ad­di­tional func­tion­al­ity in­cludes all the trav­eller's trips and itin­er­ar­ies, and an easy-to-use ex­pense claim sec­tion. Here, for ex­am­ple, the trav­eller can take a picture of a par­tic­u­lar slip – in any cur­rency – and file it away.

There are a cou­ple of other key fea­tures of the Travelit app. Firstly, its ex­ten­sion from the on­line por­tal means that it's cus­tom­iz­a­ble to spe­cific cor­po­rates and their travel poli­cies, which was the main rea­son why Katz and co couldn't – or didn't want to – take a white la­bel app so­lu­tion off the shelf.

“Ours is that cor­po­rate, that trav­eller, that policy group, those vendors,” says Paint­ing. “It's the same as Travelit does, and it's very spe­cific to the in­di­vid­ual trav­eller,

the com­pany, and the com­pany's policy group.”

Se­condly, it's in­tu­itive, mean­ing that the app charts all the steps in the travel jour­ney, and as the trav­eller pro­gresses, ei­ther sends rel­e­vant no­ti­fi­ca­tions or pushes the rel­e­vant doc­u­men­ta­tion to the screen, such as a board­ing pass pop­ping up an hour be­fore board­ing.

“Our vi­sion is that trav­ellers should never have to print out a sin­gle doc­u­ment,” says Katz.

Thirdly, the Travelit app is set up for on­line and off­line func­tion­al­ity, mean­ing that if the trav­eller finds him­self or her­self with­out an in­ter­net con­nec­tion, they can still work in the app. Think a long flight and the op­por­tu­nity to con­sol­i­date all saved ex­pense claims.

So, where to from here? Cur­rently, the app is set up for the trav­eller, the booker and the ap­prover, with a fo­cus on no­ti­fi­ca­tions/alerts and the ap­proval process.

“Book­ing is the more com­plex piece and the next log­i­cal step, and we wanted to gain the trust of our users first,” says Katz. “So, we started with the travel doc­u­ments and ap­proval pro­cesses, and we're just lead­ing them very slowly down this jour­ney.”

That jour­ney has proved more com­plex and de­tailed than Katz and Paint­ing could have ever imag­ined, with new is­sues to solve pop­ping up al­most daily.

So, safe to say they are still “bit­ing off chunks”, and it looks like they are go­ing to be do­ing that for some time to come.

As Katz says, “we be­lieve it's ex­actly the fu­ture of where travel is go­ing.” ■

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.