Skift Take

ATPI's new TripStax travel tech platform has experienced Travelport alumni at the helm, but its all-in-one retailing philosophy might limit its appeal.

Corporate travel agency ATPI has now completed the spinoff of its new technology platform — as first revealed in Skift in July last year — which is designed to help smaller agencies sell business trips in the post-pandemic world.

Two former Travelport leaders are behind the new venture, called TripStax Technologies Limited, which officially launched Tuesday and is billed as one-stop technology shop. However, in a world where agility is key, the company may struggle to convince agencies their platform has all bases covered.

Jack Ramsey, who joined ATPI as a consultant in 2020 where he eventually developed the concept, has been named CEO. He previously spent eight years in various sales and commercial roles Travelport, latterly as global sales director at its Hotelzon division.

Ramsey is joined by Mathias Andersson, who formerly spent five years as chief commercial officer of Hotelzon. Prior to that he headed up Travelport’s Nordic division for seven years. Andersson joined TripStax as chief commercial officer at the end of 2021.

TripStax’s investors include Intermediate Capital Group, which is one of ATPI Group’s owners. ATPI has also made a significant investment, with ATPI CEO Ian Sinderson joining TripStax as a director.

ATPI will remain a “flagship customer” of London-headquartered TripStax, which said it already employs 90 staff globally. But the aim now is to target smaller agencies that are recovering after the lull in business travel caused by the pandemic.

“There are agencies that are really struggling, and we can help them reduce cost,” Ramsey claimed. “We don’t want to be a cost-first proposition, because there’s so much more to the proposition. But there’s a huge ability for us to save costs. We can halve, or take out multiples of up to eight, of their transactional margin. There’s that opportunity to help them survive.”

Ramsey said most travel agencies were paying heavily when connecting to different platforms, such as analytics, duty of care and booking providers. He argued those businesses simply store booking details in separate databases and charge agencies to process it.

“Every additional piece of technology you take on, you get an additional transaction charge even though it’s still one booking that’s being made,” he said. “If you want to set up a travel management company today, there’s no single shop to get everything from, with a single transactional fee.”

And as the industry continues to shrink, Ramsey said TripStax can take out the complexity of trying to merge different systems. “There are a fair few agencies who are buying up other agencies who are either struggling or are in good shape but ready to get out through fear of (Covid) happening again,” he added. “There is a post-pandemic support function in what we’re doing, but also it’s more evolutionary than that. Most traditional agencies are very reliant on a couple of vendors.”

A Different Story

Two ex-Travelport execs going it alone may sound familiar — after all, Locomote’s founders sold and then bought back their platform from Travelport last year. But the similarities stop there, because TripStax seems to want to provide a one-stop shop, compared to Locomote’s more open plug-and-play  approach.

At first, TripStx will offer eight modules that plug into a “central data processing architecture” it calls  the Core, which processes profile, booking and invoice data across different modules, with marketing-friendly names like Approve, Profile, Track and Mobile. “Our pricing model is unique as there definitely isn’t another tech ecosystem using a subscription model for each module, and only charging a single transaction fee, regardless of how many times a booking is processed, or how many modules are used,” the company said.

It wants to help other agencies eliminate the need to manage multiple technology vendors, but that could be a risk one expert argued. “The new buzzword is ‘open.'”, said Gavin Smith, director of Element Travel Technology. “Allow loads of connections, use micro services and so on. TripStax is probably unique, but will it save money? I’m not sure.”

He added that while an agency could reduce the “churn” of using so many other tools using TripStax, there could be extra costs around the need to train and reskill people. “Change management equals cost to the travel agency,” Smith said. “I think there is a market for it, but it’s more than likely for ATPI’s travel management company partners.”

Meanwhile there could be concerns from those travel agencies that count themselves as competitors to ATPI; although TripStax is being promoted as a separate entity to ATPI, they may not feel comfortable diverting revenue to a rival, particularly so soon after the pandemic.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said Ramsey spent eight years running Travelport’s global commercial team, and Andersson headed up Travelport’s Nordic division after working at Hotelzon.

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Tags: atpi, business travel, coronavirus, corporate travel, covid-19, travel management, travel technology, travelport

Photo credit: TripStax wants to offer travel agencies a low-cost platform to run all parts of their business. Lee Sangmyeong / Unsplash