The Takeoff Episode 03: Why Team and Culture Matter for Travel Startups Sponsored This content is created collaboratively with one of our sponsors.
GetGoing found a crowded field in consumer travel, wisely privoted toward B2B, but now has to prove that its corporate-booking tool is truly different from those of more-established competitors.
GetGoing, a San Francisco travel startup that began with a questionable flight-booking premise, pivoted away from its consumer business two months ago and has apparently found a measure of success in the corporate travel world.
GetGoing co-founder and CEO Alek Vernitsky says the YCombinator offspring, which was founded in 2011, has developed a hotel booking platform with desktop and mobile versions for travel management companies, and is profitable.
Like plenty of other travel startups that preceded it, GetGoing is finding a pivot toward enterprise solutions to be far more fruitful than targeting consumers.
With 45 employees and $10 million in funding from investors such as I2BF Digital, DST, Lightbank and YCombinator, GetGoing just opened a second office in Redwood City, California, and is focusing on further development of its corporate booking tool focused on hotel stays.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the second largest travel management company in the world, is a customer, and the third largest, BCD Travel, is believed to be, as well. Other customers include HP and Galactic.
GetGoing initially was offering flights and hotels to leisure travelers on an opaque basis, and this had parallels to Priceline Express Deals and Hotwire.
In a move to please airline participants and to ensure that bookers of these discounted flight deals were truly leisure travelers, GetGoing asked users to choose two possible flights/destinations, and then GetGoing chose which one of the two the traveler purchased.
GetGoing subsequently added hotels, giving users a chance to book a stay at the destination in addition to booking flights.
If the premise of the site — having GetGoing making the final decision on which of two flights/destinations the user would book and travel to in exchange for discounts — required a substantial leap of faith, Vernitsky doesn’t see it that way, arguing that consumers realized they were getting good deals.
Instead, Vernitsky says the site was losing money in the consumer business because of airline consolidation in the U.S., high load factors, and the resulting lack of available flight inventory.
GetGoing, Vernitsky says, began developing its corporate travel tool for hotel bookings about a year ago.
The tool incorporates employee profiles and corporate travel policies, integrates with wholesalers and global distribution systems, and is used by travel agents to help business travelers book the right hotel when they phone the travel agency, Vernitsky says.
Vernitsky says clients like the speed of the tool, and its user interface.
There is a mobile version of the hotel-only tool, as well, and most clients use it in tandem with other corporate booking tools, including those from Concur, GetThere or Deem, he adds.
GetGoing uses a software as a service model, licenses the booking tool to clients, and collects a fee per booking, Vernitsky says.
One advantage for GetGoing is that it is “closely collaborating” with Amadeus in Europe, where it is the dominant global distribution system in many markets, Vernitsky says.
GetGoing has applied for eight patents on its technology, and is currently developing reporting tools to add to the platform.
As a private company, Vernitsky declined to provide any details on its profitability, so it was not possible to confirm claims of profitability.
As it tries to ramp up the business, GetGoing faces stiff competition from larger companies with a far more resrouces.
Still, Vernitsky is optimistic as he recalls the early days when GetGoing was participating in YCombinator, when the mission was to “make something that people really want. We are making something that people really want.”
That wasn’t the case initially because: Who really needed another flight-search startup.
But, GetGoing appears to be giving itself a chance with its pivot toward hotels and corporate travel.