< PrevNext > Travel Management Company Challengers Will Drive Traveler Centricity By Adam Perrotta / January 22, 2019 / Contact Reporter Share When corporate travel booking and management provider TripActions earned "unicorn" status by reaching an investor valuation of $1 billion in November, observers saw not only an affirmation of the company's potential but also a signal that the traditional corporate travel management company model was ripe for disruption. And while other startups may not be fitting themselves for a horn and wings just yet, TMC challengers will shake things up in the year ahead, spurring established providers to rethink their own value proposition.Travel management's new breed includes TravelBank, Rydoo, TravelPerk, NexTravel, WTMC and a reinvented AmTrav. While specifics vary, these providers emphasize traveler-friendly experiences akin to the consumer side, offering features like artificial intelligence-enhanced online booking tools, robust mobile capabilities, chatbots, live customer support and rewards. Making the process simple and easy, the thinking goes, encourages business travelers to book in channel and leaves them happier overall with the entire travel experience.This tech-first model is easier to pull off when serving the smaller, less complex programs these providers currently focus on, but that doesn't mean they're not eyeing bigger fish. TripActions has stressed its intentions to take on TMC heavyweights; CEO Ariel Cohen told BTN last year, "We want to take the market, so our competitors are Amex GBT, BCD, Carlson, Egencia."Meanwhile, TravelPerk chief commercial officer Jean-Christophe Taunay-Bucalo anticipates an imminent "revolution" in which the new travel booking and management platforms take over for traditional TMCs. Startup accelerators like Plug and Play have latched onto the potential for corporate travel tech disruption, as well, naming browser extension-based booking tool Shep the top startup—among all travel tech, not just corporate—in its Winter 2018 competition. Shep CEO Daniel Senyard told BTN his company is pivoting from pre-travel management clients to enterprise prospects that want to capture out-of-channel bookings TMCs can't reach.Established TMCs may not be quaking in their boots just yet—the top few players still dominate the market, especially for enterprise clients—but they've definitely taken note of the new kids on the block. In November, American Express Global Business Travel inked an exclusive partnership deal with corporate travel management startup Lola to develop what Amex GBT VP of marketing and product strategy Evan Konwiser called "a maniacally traveler-focused" solution. Early last year, BCD Travel launched SolutionSource, a third-party tech marketplace featuring traveler-facing booking and management tools like Freebird and Rocketrip. Meanwhile, CWT has a partnership with Plug and Play to identify and work with young companies, many that originally targeted the consumer sector, providing innovative travel booking and management services.As TMC challengers gain ground and TMCs themselves adopt more traveler-centric principles, the corporate travel booking and management model is changing at a pace that only will quicken in 2019.