Created in 2015 in Silicon Valley in the United States, TripActions is taking its first steps in France and intends to expand to the rest of Europe. After raising $430 million in 2021, the company intends to stand out thanks to its complete solution and the use of machine learning. Meeting with Zahir Abdelouhab, VP Southern Europe of TripActions.
You have been around for many years. Why decide to attack the French market only now?
We would have liked to do it before, but we had to be in a configuration that allows it, to have operational sales and customer support teams, content translated into the local language and a connection with the airlines and the railway, and all that takes time. The period of crisis has undoubtedly delayed us in this deadline. We opened the British market in 2020 and we would have liked to do it at the same time in France, but that was not possible. But know that we are only 6 years old. TripActions is a unicorn valued at $7.2 billion from $2 billion pre-crisis. We have a significant market position.
The company was built around the user experience. It was founded in 2015 by Ariel Cohen while he was in Ukraine in the middle of a snowstorm in the middle of the night, blocked, with no simple GUI tools. A shame when we were already talking at the time of commercial trips to the moon. His wish was to use data science so that the solution could learn from the user’s way of traveling and facilitate his future trips. The graphical interface is as relevant as possible. Our added value is that we are a travel agency that also offers a payment and travel & expense solution. Our ambition is to create a seamless end-to-end experience. If a traveler’s flight is canceled due to a strike, the tool is automatically informed and reserves a new ticket for them, taking into account their preferences. Machine learning learns from user behavior and interactions with travel agents. The latter automatically has all the information about the traveler when he is contacted.
What place do you give to mobile in this experience?
The health crisis has shown the indispensable role of travel agents, but also of technology. If the health rules change overnight, you have to be able to be informed in real time. I’m millennial and personally I’ve never called an agent because I prefer to contact them via chat on my phone. We want our application to be as sexy as that of Air France or Booking. The mobile allows you to do several things, such as knowing which colleagues are traveling with me or booking an Uber. Travel managers can use a single console to see where employees are located anywhere in the world in real time. TripActions is a technology company first and foremost, which is why we are nimble and evolve our solution as needed.
What is your incentive policy?
TripActions can be used in a professional but also personal context. Just press a button to slide from one profile to another. In France, many companies are frightened by this possibility. We give the possibility of rewarding the traveler on the savings made. The company has the choice of offering him a voucher, a bouquet of flowers or paying the difference to his personal account, depending on the tax rules. It can also choose to reward the efforts made in terms of carbon reduction. We give the possibility to see its carbon footprint over the year and to budget it by transforming it into euros. The logic is to have as much data as possible, whether in terms of payment or carbon impact, in order to make the right decisions.
You raised several hundred million dollars in 2021, what are the projects in the coming months?
We are always looking to improve the user experience and this comes through continuous product development. We have just launched Liquid, our expense management solution which will search for information automatically to easily create an expense. We are going to develop our geographical footprint with a major ambition in Europe. We have just opened in England, the Netherlands, France and Germany and we have opened an operational center in Lisbon. We are aiming for internal and external growth and for this we are looking at the market for potential acquisitions.