Author: Dennis Schaal
Yapta, the airfare price-drop tracking company, tracked down a new CEO as it continues a pivot toward the corporate travel market.
James Filsinger started in his CEO role at Yapta this week, replacing interim CEO Ken Myer, who filled in after then-CEO Tom Romary left the company for Rearden Commerce late last year.
Filsinger spent more than a decade at Sabre, including a stint as vice president of new business ventures; served as CEO of a Sabre and Amadeus travel-payment joint venture; and most recently was general manager of TravelClick’s channel management operation after heading up EZYield, a hotel distribution company sold to TravelClick in 2011.
Yapta enables travelers to enter their flight details, receive notifications when the fare drops before they fly, and claim refunds from the airline.
To this day, many consumers aren’t aware that these sorts of services are available from certain airlines, including Alaska Airlines, AirTran, JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian, United, US Airways, and Virgin America, for instance.
Founded in 2007, Yapta has been pivoting toward the corporate travel market, where it sees the largest growth opportunity, over the last 14 months.
Yapta began powering the MasterCard PriceAssure program in May 2011, enabling cardholders to claim their airline credits.
And, in the interim, Yapta tweaked its core flight-tracking solution for consumers and developed a FareIQ tool geared for the corporate market.
Yapta currently is piloting FareIQ with a couple of household-name corporations.
“We see phenomenal opportunity there,” says Filsinger, referring to the corporate market. “I am making sure we maintain that momentum we have right now in the B2B space with those pilot customers.”
If Yapta’s swing toward the corporate market has been somewhat protracted and perhaps delayed by the CEO shuffle, it appears that the company’s largest shareholder, Concur, has some patience.
Michael Hilton, Concur’s co-founder, is a Yapta board member and led the CEO search process, Steve Singh, Concur CEO and chairman, told Skift. “I think FareIQ, targeted at the corporate market, is just the beginning of the innovation that Yapta can deliver. Stay tuned.”
Concur owns itinerary management service TripIt. In a twist, prior to that acquisition, Yapta had agreed to power a flight-tracking service for TripIt’s premium service, TripIt Pro, but the implementation didn’t happen.
Singh of Concur says the reason the integration didn’t take place is because Yapta is indeed focused on the corporate market.
“There was no glitch on integration with TripIt,” Singh says. “It is just that FareIQ is designed to be sold into corporations as opposed to on an individual basis. Given that Yapta is a very small company with limited resources, we were very supportive of their decision to focus their resources.”
Filsinger says one of his tasks will be to balance Yapta’s corporate versus consumer dance — although clearly Yapta is tilting toward the corporate side and hopes to sign up some large travel management companies.
What about room rates?
In addition to airfare tracking, Yapta monitors hotel price-drops, as well.
Filsinger says Yapta is looking into expanding FareIQ’s airfare capabilities into other verticals, such as hotels, as well.
On the consumer side, TripAdvisor several months ago launched Tingo, a hotel booking service which automatically sends refunds when room rates drop.
Yapta has raised $13.8 million in funding from Bay Partners, Concur, First Round Capital, Swiftsure Capital, Voyager Capital, W Media Ventures and private investors.