Creators of the popular itinerary management and sharing service Tripit have no plans to expand internationally and have yet to translate their service into any language other than English, although translation “will come eventually,” says president Gregg Brockway, who adds that he’s very interested in learning about the Chinese travel industry on his upcoming trip to China to speak at the China Travel Distribution Summit in Beijing this September.
TripIt already has users all over the world, Brockway says, but recently the company has been more focused on improving its offerings for the business travel market than on more direct activity in international markets.
In its efforts to beef up business offerings, TripIt recently announced a partnership with Orbitz for Business. The deal will allow travelers using Orbitz for Business to seamlessly sync their travel plans via TripIt, and to access additional planning tools like maps and online check-in.
TripIt, based in the Bay Area and founded in 2006, gives users one place online to organize their travel details. If travel providers are TripIt partners, then users can have their flights and hotel reservations automatically sent to their TripIt account. When they use non-participating travel services, they have to e-mail their reservations to TripIt, which then adds all reservations to an itinerary. Users can also choose to share their plans with others, a function which Brocway says gave rise to TripIt’s corporate offering, TripIt for Business.
“We saw one of the most common uses of the share function was sharing fellow employees,” he says. “So we created a corporate group function.” For $399 annually, companies can give employees access to TripIt Groups (available for free) and can also create their own subgroups for their travelers. Employees at companies with TripIt for business accounts also can use TripIt Pro services (which would cost $49 if bought separately), including flight-alert notifications, information about alternative flights, frequent flyer mile tracking and hotel rewards point tracking. Its business services and individual subscriptions are key revenue streams, the others being advertising and working with travel agencies to create e-itineraries for their customers.
With the Orbitz agreement inked and 300% growth year on year, Brockway’s trip to China comes at a time when the entrepreneur (a co-founder of Hotwire in 1999) has a little more freedom to look at new markets. TripIt is already used internationally, he says.
“With our mobile app, we see people using it pretty much everywhere,” he says. TripIt has mobile apps for Android, Blackberry and iPhone. Brockway emphasizes that it does not seek to be a one-stop travel shop, and has not invested heavily in destination-based content. If the company looks at expansion into a new market, he says that factors it will consider are the maturity of the travel market; e-connectivity for hotel data, and tour and flight information; what is the equivalent of a GDS in a given market; and how much travel activity takes place online.
“I’m very curious to learn more about the state of the travel market there,” Brockway says about his trip to China. He already has some experience in the Far East, having worked in Hong Kong for five years in the mid-90s.
He’s well aware of the pitfalls of charging into a new market without soberly evaluating the opportunity or finding good local support. “Even when I was working in Hong Kong, people would come in with misguided preconceived notions about how they could bring their business model there.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting people doing innovative things in travel, and perhaps help someone as an adviser. That’s not something I had time to do the past couple of years, but now that the company is really up and running, it’s something I would consider.
For more information about China Travel Distribution Summit, please visit the event website at http://summit.traveldaily.cn/12/index_en.aspx