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Mystifly Targets TMCs with New Platform Launch

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Airline sales and distribution platform Mystifly has launched a new air-selling platform with the aim of helping travel sellers, including travel management companies, bridge the gap between legacy and modern air distribution.

Mystifly is not a new company—it began as a travel seller in 2009 and reports “hundreds” of customers, including online travel agencies, wholesalers, fintech companies and closed communities, such as loyalty programs—but its new Smart Selling Platform positions it as “a new animal in the distribution universe,” chief marketing officer Susan Carter said. It brings together and normalizes content across hundreds of airlines across sources including global distribution systems, low-cost carriers and New Distribution Capability content and enables selling, servicing and settlement of the content. That can be delivered either via an API or an agent interface.

“There are situations where travel sellers still have agents trained on different systems; they have their main GDS and have to add in other systems to deal with NDC or some LCCs,” Carter said. “This platform plugs it all together in a unified workflow not just for shopping and selling but for servicing.”

Additionally, the platform has a series of business optimization tools, such as around sourcing or pricing rules, that can be configured for a variety of channels within a seller, she said.

The first announced user of the platform is Costco Travel, a division of global retailer Costco, which is initially using the platform to access and service Hawaiian Airlines NDC through HA Connect. While a leisure use case, it demonstrates how Mystifly can work with TMCs, as Costco is able to set up different channel configurations for its member website and call center. With a TMC, each individual corporate client could be configured as its own channel, or there could even be multiple configurations within a single client.

“It could be a TMC managing 100 corporates,” Mystifly founder and CEO Rajeev Kumar said. “The ability to manage each corporate independently with the OBT getting powered through a single API of the TMC is what Mystifly offers.”

With the TMC community, Mystifly will be targeting “the lower end of the top tier and the mid-tier” as customers for the end-to-end search to service platform, but larger TMCs also could use just the servicing capabilities, Kumar said. 

“The lower end of the top tier and the middle tier cannot wait for the GDSs to solve the problem, and they are not sure whether the GDSs will solve the problem, and hence they need to look at alternatives,” he said. “When it comes to the top tier, servicing is a real problem, and we are seeing top-tier TMCs potentially showing a lot of interest in our servicing platform, the ability to change a [British Airways] booking or an American Airlines booking or Hawaiian Airlines booking using a single interface along with the GDS.”

Mystifly also is targeting expense management platforms that want to add the ability to include booking within their platform as customers, according to Kumar.

The platform launch comes as Mystifly is in a “ramp up, expansion phase,” Carter said. The company also over the past year or so has added several members to its management team, including Carter as well as chief business officer Dennis van Noord, Americas VP Jeremy Jameson, European sales director Helena Torres, head of product Lars Gaebler and head of airline partnerships and payments Eugene Kalatsidis, she said.



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Travel

Lumo Wins BTN Europe’s Innovation Faceoff

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Flight disruption management technology Lumo emerged as the judges’ top choice at the Business Travel Show Europe’s Innovation Faceoff in London on Thursday.

Lumo impressed the judging panel for having “hit our hearts with machine-learning and predictive analytics, and we loved how your brought that to reality,” Microsoft travel technology manager Steve Clagg, part of the panel of judges, said of Lumo in the presentation of the award. Beyond that, the judges said the scope of capabilities Lumo has built using those analytics made it a standout in the competition.

“A lot of companies, they go for gold in a single pointed solution,” Clagg said. “You took this capability and looked at all these different places and touchpoints in the ecosystem, from the traveler experience to supplier empowerment to TMC [enablement] to corporate program optimization, and you found ways to empower all of them.”

Among those touchpoints, Lumo’s variety of options include a browser extension that can sit above such booking tools as Concur or Cytric and show those booking travel at the point of sale the likelihood that their flight will be delayed. About 10 percent of disruptions can be avoided by making better choices at the point of sale, Lumo co-founder and CEO Bala Chandran said in his presentation. Lumo also is capable of messaging travelers when delays are likely so they can take action.

For travel managers, Lumo is capable of providing a program-wide view of how disruptions are affecting a program, Chandran said. A travel manager, for example, could identify travelers in their program who have had a particularly difficult run with disruptions and pre-emptively reach out to potentially burned-out employees, or identify particular regions or airlines that are having the most problems.

For travel management companies, Lumo has a tool that can identify if a period is coming when a significant number of clients likely will experience disruptions so they can ensure they are sufficiently staffed to properly handle it, he said. 

“Agencies don’t have sophisticated disruption management tools today, and it’s mostly reactive, Chandran said. “This is an add-on where an agent now has more information, getting them prepared for what’s coming down the pike.”

Lumo also works with airlines, helping them with strategies such as crew placement, he said.

The judging panel encouraged Lumo to continue expanding its scope, applying its analytics to areas outside of disruption, like sustainability, which Chandran said is already in the works. “You’ve got all this data and hard-core processing power applied to it,” Clagg said. “We’re excited to see how you can grow and expand use of your analytics.”

That would be a continuation of Lumo’s continually broadening scope since its launch as Flightsayer.

“As someone who has been doing this since 2016, most startups take a full decade to mature,” Chandran said upon accepting the award, “so it’s been a long time coming to get to the point of where we are.”

Judges gave an honorable mention to Eco.mio, a Berlin-based, sustainability-focused startup that integrates with booking tools and helps steer travelers to make sustainable choices. That might be in the form of economic incentives for travelers or nudges, such as showing a photo of the company’s CEO sitting in economy class when a traveler is booking a business-class ticket, said co-founder Sarah Benarey.

The judging panel “loved the approach” and were “really impressed by the input integration, the mere scope of OBTs that you are working with,” Clagg said. “It really differentiates you from other competitors.”

Besides Clagg, judges for the Faceoff included Carine Morin, ServiceNow’s regional travel manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa;  Partnership Travel Consulting founder and CEO Andy Menkes; Troop CEO Dennis Vilovic and Travlr ID founder and creator Gee Mann, the winner of last year’s Business Travel Show Europe’s Innovation Faceoff. Other participants this year included travel management technology provider TripStax, demonstrating its quality control module; ground transportation bookings and expense platform GroundSpan; business travel open API platform Zenmer; extended stay travel marketplace 3Sixty, hotel sustainability data platform Alō Index, corporate housing provider and platform Dwell Optimal; and midmarket-focused payment, expense and travel platform Mesh.



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Concur Survey: Buyers Brace for ‘Challenging’ 12 Months Ahead

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Business travel managers were nearly unanimous in declaring 2024 a “more challenging” year, facing demands including budget reductions, expanding responsibilities and a more demanding traveler population, according to an SAP Concur-sponsored survey of 600 travel managers across six global markets.

In terms of budget, 42 percent of respondents said their job will be more difficult over the next 12 months due to company directives to cut travel costs. Within the Asia/Pacific region, that percentage was 48 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted by Wakefield Research April 5-26. Some of those cuts are coming at the expense of sustainability initiatives, with 36 percent of travel managers indicating it would be difficult to meet expectations for more sustainable travel options with inadequate budgets. 

About a third of travel manager respondents said they have been asked to take a more strategic role at their company but have not received any additional training or education to do so, the survey indicated. That was more common for travel managers in the Americas and the Asia/Pacific region compared with Europe.

The most frequently cited challenges for the year were increased safety concerns and employees not using company booking tools, each cited by 38 percent of respondents. A companion survey of 3,750 business travelers across 24 markets showed 64 percent prefer making changes directly through suppliers rather than through company tools.

Business travelers surveyed were largely positive about business travel itself, with 76 percent saying they enjoy it and 67 percent considering it essential for career advancement. However, about a two-thirds said they have not had equal opportunities to take business trips compared with their colleagues—an increase of 4 percentage points for the same question in Concur’s 2023 survey—based on a variety of factors including seniority, age, gender, accent and whether they work from the company’s office.

Many travel managers, meanwhile, are seeking greener pastures, with 41 percent saying they likely would look for a new position in the next 12 months.

“Even among those looking to remain in their current role, 41 percent intend to push for changes to that position,” Concur said in the report, “demonstrating that staying put won’t necessarily equate to staying silent.”



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Agent Diary: A bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to booking your own cruise

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Thompson Travel’s Sharon Thompson spent seven nights with family on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas



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