Instead of leaving employees on their own when they mix work travel with long vacations, the travel agency should take over. The co-founder and CEO of Norwegian startup Travelin.ai believes that most corporate travel agencies have taken the wrong approach in helping clients cope with the complexities of employees traveling the world.
“Many companies talk about bleisure but fail to implement it,” said Roy Golden of Travelin.ai, who is part of the Amadeus startup program. “The business traveler’s demands for leisure are not satisfied. They want to bring their partners, friends, children, extend their stay before or after, they want to combine flights together.”
He argues that companies are having a “hard time” developing a hybrid operating model and losing track of where everyone is, with tax issues a major headache. “You have to hire lawyers, accountants and enter manually where (employees) have been. Then they are checked. It’s a mess,” he added.
However, this is being tackled by companies like Trip.Biz with its new mixed payment tool, as well as TripActions with leisure booking tool Lemonade. But is it enough?
So what’s the fix?
Amadeus has been eyeing so-called bleisure trips for a long time, and its Amadeus for Startups division helps entrepreneurs by providing them with the right technology to build their business. “With the resurgence of business travel, carefree travel is gaining momentum again,” said Paul de Villiers, Amadeus senior vice president of international business travel.
He describes Travelin.ai as “a unique, next-generation enterprise travel management platform that reflects the true lifestyle we live today.”
To take some of the stress out of organizing jobs, the Travelin.ai platform has several distinct features. Not surprisingly, one of them is a feature called Workcation, which allows an employer to assign a personal travel budget to each employee as a bonus or part of their compensation package. The budget can then be used by employees on the checkout page.
And when it comes to these travel permits, and not a direct record of signing it, it is the tax inspector who does it. Golden said that this way all days spent elsewhere are ticked off and employees won’t end up stuck in other countries, resulting in fines. “To minimize this risk to businesses, we are partnering with one of four large accounting firms to conduct a risk analysis before work is ordered,” Golden said. “Based on the results of the risk analysis, we are executing the booking approval process.”
The founder also believes that platforms like Lemonade and Travelperk fall short when it comes to offering jobs.
“We look at how the market works and then build a solution in the opposite direction,” he said. “Others create a solution and ask customers to work their way. We work in reverse. In the hybrid world we live in…