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TripIt will soon find users better seats, but are the app’s best days behind it?

@denschaal

May 07, 2013 4:02 am

Skift Take

TripIt has a loyal following, but TripIt Pro lost a some of its attractiveness when Southwest, Delta, United and American decided to play tough with loyalty program trackers. Will Concur continue to give TripIt the resources it fought for and deserves?

— Dennis Schaal

Evolving Strategies in Travel Ad Tech and Bookings

 / TripIt

TripIt's premium service, TripIt Pro, tracks 120 loyalty program, but lost the ability to automatically update users' Southwest, United, Delta and American frequent flyer program accounts. / TripIt


TripIt is in the final stages of launching a Seat Tracker tool for users of its premium service, TripIt Pro, Skift has learned.

A little more than two years after Concur acquired TripIt for $120 million, the popular itinerary management service finds itself at a crossroads, and Barry Padgett, Concur’s executive vice president of traveler services, disclosed the pending launch of Seat Tracker in response to questions about TripIt’s current situation.

“We’re adding a significant new feature: a much easier way for travelers to snag a better seat on the plane,” Padgett said. “We’ll do the work and keep them ‘in the know’ when a better seat becomes available — similar to what we do with flight alerts, check-in reminders, and fare refund tracking.”

There are plenty example of acquisitions — SideStep and Farecast come to mind — where a larger company absorbs a startup, and then lets it wither or die.

TripIt doesn’t appear to be in that situation as Padgett reports that the Concur subsidiary reached 8 million users last month, 1,300 companies have purchased TripIt Pro for their employees, and revenue is growing year-over-year.

However, while miles and points tracking is one of TripIt Pro’s main features, and is central to TripIt’s marketing of the $49-per-year service, four major airlines have chipped away at TripIt Pro’s attractiveness.

Over the last couple of years, TripIt and most other rewards-tracking services, have lost their ability to track the frequent flyer programs of the four largest U.S. airlines, namely Southwest, Delta, United and American, as those carriers have become stingy about sharing what they believe to be their intellectual property.

TripIt Pro still tracks users’ miles and points in about 120 loyalty programs, enabling travelers to monitor their rewards accounts and points and miles expiration dates, but when travelers can’t see their mile totals from the four largest U.S. airlines update automatically, then TripIt Pro loses some of its sizzle.

TripIt is working to rectify the problem even as companies such as Google and Superfly have implemented workarounds, but so far TripIt hasn’t put forth a solution.

“We share our travelers’ frustration about the decisions by American, United, Delta and Southwest to limit access to loyalty points data, and we’re not going to give up on pursuing a solution that works for everyone,” Padgett said.

TripIt was founded in 2007, and its three co-founders left the company in the wake of the Concur acquisition. Two of them, Gregg Brockway and Andy Denmark are involved in Chairish, a furniture marketplace, while TripAdvisor co-founder Scott Hintz serves as a board member of, and advisor to, Routehappy and Rocketmiles, respectively.

Padgett argues that TripIt hasn’t lost a step.

“It’s been two years since TripIt was acquired by Concur. While some companies would be tempted to rest on their laurels, we’ve been busier than ever,” Padgett said, citing the introduction of a small business feature, TripIt for Teams, and “major partnerships” with Avis and Best Western, among other accomplishments.

TripIt is banking on the fact that it isn’t one-dimensional, and that the lack of cooperation from the four absent U.S. airlines won’t cripple TripIt Pro.

Said Padgett: “While some mobile apps out there are addressing one particular need, our travelers like that we tackle a whole host of travel-related pain points for them in one place (no matter where you book, who you fly with, or which device you choose).”

In other words, diversify and conquer. That is the hope.

 

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