Spotnana leaves stealth mode with big names and big goals
Business travel startup Spotnana has just come out of stealth mode with the backing of some major industry players, and the company is presenting equally big plans to shake up the industry.
Conceived by the founder of WTMC, Sarosh Waghmar, Spotnana can act as a full travel management company for direct client companies, but also offers its technology platform to support the operations of other TMCs and suppliers, in an arrangement. which the company compared to an Amazon. Web services for the business travel industry.
Some of the names in bold involved with the company headquartered in the Bay Area include Concur co-founder Steve Singh, who is Spotnana’s chairman and investor in the company, as well as the veteran business travel innovator Johnny Thorsen as vice president of partnerships. Former Concur sales manager Bill Tillman will lead Spotnana’s efforts in this area, while former American Express Global Business Travel COO Bill Brindle will serve as its vice president of travel operations.
In an interview with BTN, Singh said he did not expect to return to the travel industry after leaving SAP Concur in 2017, but was “revitalized” by Waghmar’s vision for Spotnana, which is focuses on unifying various aspects of the travel process that were traditionally fragmented. among disparate technology stacks and controlled by multiple stakeholders with varying motivations and incentives.
“Everything from the GDS layer to the mid-office… everything is very fragmented. They have different customer records, they have different motivations,” Singh said. “Different TMCs have motives for providing only the content they want to prioritize, as opposed to what the customer wants,” he added.
Spotnana aims to align these competing priorities by leveraging the current generation of cloud-based network technology, delivering what Singh described as a “full range of features that a customer needs, which integrates content from anywhere. which source, but which is also configurable “.
Looking for clients with a shared vision
This configurability is the key to Spotnana’s use case as the technology architecture that underpins the operations of third-party TMCs and other vendors, who can customize the platform to their own specific needs and add new features. the value tailored to their own target audience through the system’s open API model, Singh noted. For example, an airline can create a more robust display of content than that available in GDS on Spotnana’s platform, he added.
The company currently has two TMC partners and is working with several others, and will be launching with several partners in the areas of expense, human resources and due diligence.
While the platform-based service model is a key aspect of Spotnana’s overall value proposition, the company is also focused on bundling this technology into a comprehensive TMC service offering for direct client businesses – including it currently has around 50 of different sizes – in order to serve as a model on how advanced technology can deliver a superior offering to customers, according to Singh.
“We want to set the bar for what the customer experience should be like,” Singh said. “You need to provide the customer with the full range of choices the customer is entitled to… and align with how customers want to consume the technology. ”
According to Spotnana, this means offering a full range of booking content from multiple sources globally, offered through a pay-as-you-go model, as opposed to a subscription fee. And while the company declined to disclose its cost per trip, Singh said Spotnana would leverage the profitability of its cloud-based technology stack and pass those savings on to customers.
Waghmar is no stranger to shaking up existing frameworks in the travel industry. His previous company, WTMC, was based largely on the principle of reversing the GDS model by using financial incentives to entice TMCs to reserve volume through their channels, even if the content available on that channel was not the best. option for the customer.
WTMC has ceased operations, with some of its major customers establishing relationships with major TMCs. But this anti-status quo ethic still runs through Spotnana’s veins, Waghmar told BTN.
“It’s not just time to change technology, it’s time to change the whole business model,” Waghmar noted, citing the reduced costs of cloud computing and the advancements in artificial intelligence and technology. machine learning as the key factors that enable Spotnana to offer an alternative to legacy infrastructure, he said, has hampered efficiency and misaligned priorities across the travel ecosystem.
Investors Support Next Generation Travel Technology
Currently, Spotnana has “around 120” employees, Waghmar said, the majority in development roles as the company continues to develop its platform, along with a growing sales and marketing team. .
On the financing front, Singh’s Madrona Venture Group recently joined ICONIQ Capital to lead a $ 34 million funding round.
“I am incredibly happy to work with an entrepreneur like Sarosh,” Singh said. “He has experience in the travel industry, but he’s also a great technologist. You can’t just be a technologist and you can’t just be a travel manager. You have to understand both areas, and that’s how you bring customer value. “
– Elizabeth West contributed reporting for this article