Rather than leaving staff to fend for themselves when mixing work trips with long vacations, a travel agency should take control. The co-founder and CEO of Norwegian startup Travelin.ai thinks most corporate travel agencies have taken the wrong approach to helping customers deal with the complexities of globe-trotting employees.
“A lot of companies talk about ‘bleisure’ but they can’t execute it,” said Roy Golden of Travelin.ai, which is part of the Amadeus for Startups program. “The leisure requirements of the business traveler are not met. They want to bring their partners, friends, children, extend their stay before or after, they want to mix the flights between them.
He argues that companies are “struggling” to craft the hybrid working model and are losing sight of where everyone is, with tax complications being the main headache. “They have to hire lawyers, accountants and manually enter where (employees) have been. Then they are audited. It’s a mess,” he added.
However, it is being approached by companies like Trip.Biz, with its new blended payments tool, as well as TripActions with leisure booking tool Lemonade. But is it enough?
So what’s the fix?
Amadeus has long had its eye on so-called bleisure travel, and its Amadeus for Startups division helps entrepreneurs by giving them the right technologies to grow their business. “With the renaissance of business travel, bleisure travel is once again gaining traction,” said Paul de Villiers, senior vice president, Global Business Travel Accounts at Amadeus.
He describes Travelin.ai as a “one-stop, next-generation business travel management platform that reflects the true way we live today.”
To help take some of the stress out of organizing workcations, Travelin.ai’s platform has a few features that stand out. One is a feature called, unsurprisingly, Workcation, which allows an employer to assign a personal travel budget to each employee as a bonus or part of their overall compensation. The budget can then be redeemed by employees on the checkout page.
And when it comes to those travel approvals, rather than a direct report signing them, the taxman does. Golden said that this way, all days spent in other places are checked off and employees will not end up overstaying their welcome in other countries, which will lead to fines. “To minimize this risk to businesses, we work with one of the big four accounting firms to perform a risk analysis before jobs are booked,” Golden said. “Based on the results of the risk analysis, we execute the booking approval process.”
The founder also thinks that platforms like Lemonade, as well as Travelperk, don’t fly when it comes to offering workcations.
“We look at how the market works and then we build a solution upside down,” he said. “Others build a solution and ask customers to work their way. We work backwards. In the hybrid world, the one we live in now, it’s the same person. We tell customers, you live the way you want to live your life, it’s our responsibility to build the technology to accommodate that, not the other way around.
However, TripActions’ Lemonade platform, which launched in 2020 as an employee benefit, saw average monthly growth of 22% in the first quarter of this year.
“With an increased focus on wellness following the Great Resignation and Reshuffle, personal travel as a benefit has generated increased interest for companies looking for consumer solutions to differentiate themselves as as potential employers,” said Nina Herold, travel manager, executive vice president.
Since the pandemic, the travel agency has also seen a marked shift in business trips that contain a weekend. Since 2019, 31% of business trips included a weekend, but now that share has risen to 38%, the company said.
It has also been offering rewards for some time, if employees can reduce business travel costs through a “beat price” feature, with those rewards redeemable for personal travel and business travel upgrades.
Travelin.ai’s Golden will be presenting at Amadeus’ upcoming Travel Tech Night in Berlin on June 14, alongside Tilla, a crew travel platform, which will showcase its journey as a travel tech startup and share insights. challenges encountered along the way. “We believe their story could inspire newcomers to the travel industry,” an Amadeus spokesperson said.
And Riskline, which belongs to the Amadeus Partner Network, will also be present. “Riskline is a clear example of a successful collaboration between Amadeus and the startup ecosystem,” the spokesperson added.
Although Travelin.ai already has several clients, including PSA Consulting and Norwegian artificial intelligence software company Kindly, and funding from Innovation Norway and TRK Group, part of the founder’s presentation will likely include a presentation to d other investors, including Amadeus Launchpad, Amadeus Ventures and Microsoft for Startups, who will also be speaking.
The European Union is moving closer to requiring companies to spell out exactly what remote working means.
This is partly due to the European Union’s Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive, which was published in 2019 but is fast approaching its August 2 “transposition deadline”. By that date, each Member State will have to adopt legislation implementing its terms.
Europe is still an uneven playing field, according to law firm Fisher Phillips.
Sweden has already implemented a new model of remote work, while Italy has adopted the directive by putting in place protection measures for employees with contracts of “occasional collaboration” and “coordinated continuous collaboration” .
Poland has addressed the issue of remote work by requiring that the rules for remote work be set out in an agreement between employer and employee at the start of the employment relationship, the law firm said.
“Member states of the European Union are using the (directive) to reassess and reform their employment policies,” he wrote in a blog post. “Some of them have already established new work policies that meet the requirements of the directive, while others have gone beyond the minimum standards.”
One of the minimum standards concerns “predictability of employment conditions”, giving employees full information about their workplace, among other aspects.
The European Union has already debated remote work, including its less attractive side. Ben Marks, CEO and founder of the #WorkAnywhere campaign, helped moderate these roundtables and said he hoped member states would go beyond the minimum standards set by the Predictable Working Conditions Directive.
“True remote work – that means working remotely not under duress or during a pandemic – has the power to transform our society for the better,” he said. “This can help tackle the cost of living crisis and can be the key to retaining more women in the workplace. It’s time to enjoy the benefits of remote work for all while safeguarding the health and well-being of workers. »
Once again, countries have set in stone legal requirements to define where to work, whether remote or not, there can be less debate about who exactly should return to their office, and more confidence in booking, which the travel industry at large would appreciate right now.
Marks’ campaign will soon release the results of a major study of remote work environments, conducted with Selina and researchers at Boston University, potentially in time for the European Union’s directive deadline.
10 second catch up on business trips
Who and what Skift covered last week: Accor, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Hopper, easyJet, Iberia, JetBlue, Journera, Oyo, Trip.com, Wizz Air.
ATPI expands its presence in Africa and the Middle East
travel management company ATPI added four partners to its global network across Africa and Europe. New partner agencies are located in Gabon, Rwanda, Liberia and Israel, bringing its global total to 76 countries and 100 offices. In Liberia, JOS Travel and Tours will support mining and resource-related travel, as well as business travel. ATPI has also replaced its partners in Japan and Portugal with Tokyo-based Tobu Top Tours and marine and energy specialist Wide Travel.
Amadeus Exec supports traveler experience at CWT
The business travel agency has CWT appointed Mike Douglass to the newly created role of TX Customer Service and Excellence Leader (Traveler Experience). He joins from Amadeus, where he was most recently senior vice president – airlines, with previous roles at Travelport and Saber and American Airlines.