Skift Take

Travelers get free gift cards, and companies save money on their travel spend. Tweaking traveler behavior through incentives isn't new to the corporate travel space, but investors seem to have finally noticed its potential.

The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter focused on the future of corporate travel, the big fault lines of disruption for travel managers and buyers, the innovations emerging from the sector, and the changing business traveler habits that are upending how corporate travel is packaged, bought, and sold.



The big news in corporate travel this week is a huge funding round for Priceline co-founder Jay Walker’s new business travel venture Upside, and everyone in the corporate travel ecosystem should be paying attention.

Upside, which rewards business travelers with gift cards for making bookings that save their companies money, raised $50 million at a $200 million valuation, showing that major travel and technology are taking the company seriously.

“We’re going straight for the unmanaged business traveler,” said Walker when the company was announced last summer. “A lot of the time when I talk to small companies, [they say] they’re not even as interested in saving money, but if they could just give their employees a benefit for business travel, they love that idea.”

Upside negotiates with travel providers to drive down prices and presents packages to its users instead of prices of individual aspects of the trip. Walker is going after medium-sized companies with unmanaged travel, presenting a clear value proposition to both travelers and their companies.

Companies like Rocketrip also provide incentives for business travelers to make smarter decisions, and Upside is part of a rising tide of corporate travel startups with a focus on user behavior.

In a sector that is historically resistant to change, smart companies are pushing forward what has long been commonsense in the consumer travel space: making life easier for your users is valuable, and tangible rewards — especially gift cards — are even better.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Skift


LaGuardia TSA just seized my Zabar’s cream cheese. ‘It’s spreadable,’ the officer said. ‘We can’t let spreadables through. ‏@JeffreyGoldberg


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The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is curated by Skift editors Hannah Sampson [[email protected]] and Andrew Sheivachman [[email protected]]. The newsletter is emailed every Thursday.

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Tags: ctir, upside

Photo credit: More corporate travel startups are paying attention to how to shift traveler behavior toward smarter buying decisions. Pictured is Upside's app for business travelers. Upside

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