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The dream of an App Store-like solution for travel managers isn’t here yet.
But BCD Travel on Tuesday launched a service, SolutionSource, that makes it easier and hopefully quicker for travel managers to integrate products an services from startups and technology partners.
Corporate travel giants are notorious for being difficult for third-party technology service and technology partners to interface with. Legacy technology systems, combined with complex data infrastructures, have hampered widespread integration even as startups offering valuable solutions have emerged over the last decade.
BCD Travel has been working on a solution since last summer to help streamline the process of integrating third-party solutions for both technology companies and travel managers.
The SolutionSource service debuts with nine partners, including Rocketrip, Freebird, Yapta, Fairfly, and Anvil. In theory, travel managers should be able to more quickly integrate partner services into their programs, in a matter of days instead of weeks or months. Technology companies will get standardized APIs and developer tools to integrate their product into the platform.
“There’s a tremendous amount of innovation happening in corporate travel; in some places it’s established players and in others it’s in startups,” said Yannis Karmis, senior
vice president of product planning and development for BCD Travel. “At BCD we’re investing very heavily in our own tech stack, but at the same time we recognize that a core part of our success is how we’ll work with these third parties… [we’re now] running more of a tech company playbook.”
Many more partners are on the way, according to BCD Travel director of product planning Irina Matz, and the program boasts a robust pipeline. The travel management company plans to roll out new partners throughout 2018.
Developing a new platform was necessary due to the complexity of how transactions are handled in a travel management company’s backend and how different services can touch and change a booking.
BCD Travel also developed the infrastructure to better share data between the platform and its traveler-facing TripSource solution and DecisionSource product for travel managers. As advanced data analytics and insights emerge in corporate travel, having data integrated across all platforms will be valuable for BCD Travel’s customers.
“The general expectation from corporate clients is they want to manage a holistic program and that includes the traditional fulfillment process and price assurance, but they often want that within the context of the wider program,” said Karmis. “SolutionSource is not built in a silo. Our strategy is building a series of platforms to go to market, it expands our capability to bring in third-parties.”