Traditional lodging doesn’t always fit the bill for business travelers. After a long day of client meetings or conference sessions, business travelers might want to unwind in an Airbnb that feels like home instead of a staid chain hotel room.
That option is not always available with the traditional suspects for business travel booking, like travel agents or online travel agencies (OTAs). These services don’t always come at the best price either, and they’re not always well-suited to the intricacies of corporate travel policies.
As a result, Avi Meir sought to build a better business travel booking experience when he helped found Travelperk. The platform gives travelers access to non-traditional lodging, among other features, while staying within corporate travel policies.
Meir also took a non-traditional approach to marketing the service: He designed the service around the end-user — the business traveler — instead of their bosses.
“We said, ‘Let’s approach it in a completely different way,’” Travelperk Co-Founder and CEO Avi Meir told PYMNTS in an interview. “‘Let’s build a consumer product that happens to be serving business travelers.’”
The tool also seeks to cut through the bottlenecks in the corporate business travel booking process — manual approval by human employees. That process is often slow and time-consuming.
To speed up their reservations, business travers can utilize a decentralized approval option through Travelperk. Through this system, business travelers choose their own hotels, flights or rental cars that fit corporate travel policies using a stored corporate card.
To make all this happen, Travelperk doesn’t send users to third-party websites to complete their reservations. Instead, it uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to complete the bookings and then sends a confirmation to the traveler. There are also business-friendly features, such as more flexible payment terms. With the premium version, for example, businesses can pay Travelperk once a month instead of every time a traveler makes a booking.
Whether its users opt for a free or paid version, Travelperk takes a commission on the supplier side of the business. For this reason, the company makes money on both free and premium users.
“We make money on every transaction we do — even on free,” Meir explained. “It’s a very important piece of our strategy.”
To see its strategy through, Travelperk recently raised $21 million in a Series B round led by Berlin-based Target Global and London’s Felix Capital, bringing the round to $30 million. Earlier investors Spark Capital and Sunstone also participated in the round, alongside new global player Amplo — adding to early stage backers LocalGlobe.
With the funding boost, Travelperk plans to keep investing in its product and platform, knowing that it comes to the market as the world is changing in its perception of enterprise versus consumer platforms across several verticals — and not just travel. While enterprise-level products used to be seen as a badge of quality, that is no longer the case.
Now, consumer solutions are just as fast and sleek. As a result, nearly every industry has a consumer bottom-up player such as Travelperk that is disrupting the space.
“That’s why our investors are excited about partnering with us, and that’s the core of our mission,” Meir said. “The main thing we are here to do is make business travelers happy.”