The corporate travel segment is just good business for Freebird, the startup that rebooks travelers experiencing flight disruption. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company shifted its focus to TMCs and their corporate clients a year ago and received another $5 million in funding from General Catalyst and Accomplice in April, following an initial round of $3.5 million in November 2015.
It has gained a foothold in the corporate market by signing on publicly traded and Fortune 500 companies at a rate of about a dozen per quarter. Bernstein describes the response from the segment as “overwhelming.”
The startup made the decision to redirect its focus to corporate travel after encountering its own set of pain points with the leisure market, where there was friction with both the sign-up and purchase processes. Working directly with organizations that have established travelers streamlines Freebird’s customer acquisition while safeguarding their clients’ flight purchases –a void that travel insurance can’t fill—without requiring them to develop or deploy new technology.
Accommodating this new clientele necessitated the addition of new capabilities to Freebird’s tech repertoire: integration with all three GDS systems so that rebookings made on behalf of corporate travelers are made as the TMC or employer via their pseudo city codes. The process allows the rebooking to fall into existing workflow records while also complying with the organization’s duty of care policies.
Once a client signs on with Freebird, the implementation process takes about 30 days as Freebird obtains the requisite GDS credentials from the company, which also shares a list of high-value travelers whose airfare will be regularly monitored by Freebird and rebooked in cases of disruption.
In 2018, Freebird plans to expand its stronghold in the corporate travel segment. The startup hired its first sales manager this past fall and will continue adding more in the coming year.
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