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Creating The Perfect Trip – Spotnana

AUTHOR: Steve Singh | October 4, 2021

There were many amazing things about my life at Concur. At the very top were the people I was privileged to work alongside. And how we approached everything we did. A consistent request of everyone, was to “imagine the way the world should work – independent of what is good for us as a company – and then go make that vision a reality”. It was part of our new hire onboarding process, and it was what was expected of everyone, myself included. Externally, this vision was known as The Perfect Trip, a never-ending mission to create the world we wanted – at least in our little corner of the world. We did not always achieve that lofty goal but we always tried. Sometimes we fell short because of ourselves, and sometimes because what we wanted was not achievable given the current technology. More than two decades later, I still feel like the work is unfinished.

In the fall of 2019, I met an incredible young entrepreneur who asked if I would be interested in investing in his corporate travel startup. I politely declined, stating that I was not interested in building another Concur. We kept in touch for a few months, and then agreed to meet while we were both in New York. To be completely transparent, I had thoughts of canceling the meeting right up to that morning. I met with Sarosh Waghmar, and his CTO, Shikhar Agarwal for lunch. The universe was looking out for me.

To be completely transparent, I had thoughts of canceling the meeting right up to that morning. The universe was looking out for me.

It was an incredible meeting, and I would have kicked myself had I not taken the time to meet them. Sarosh is understated, humble, has a giant heart, an incredible work ethic, and sets goals [with credible plans] that are more than ambitious. He had a compelling vision of how the travel industry would evolve and why it needed to. We became friends immediately.

Our lunch conversation started simply enough. Sarosh asked why I was not interested in building another Concur. It was clear that he was trying to determine how aligned our industry views were. I shared my thoughts on what was needed to truly deliver incredible value to the traveler, the companies they work for, and to the suppliers that serve both. We bonded over our views of what was needed and just as importantly, what was possible. We also shared a deep belief in the travel industry. Travel brings people together in ways not possible in a digital world – through rich, rewarding, shared experiences. It broadens our world view, and it has the potential to unite people from all walks of life. It is a platform for humanity.

We knew that for the travel industry, “creating the world as it should be”, means you have to start from scratch.

We knew that for the travel industry, “creating the world as it should be”, means you have to start from scratch. You have to solve the underlying problems that hamper meaningful progress. Data is fragmented. There are a lot of inefficiencies between the buyer of travel services and the provider of travel services. The travel experience is rarely consistent or seamlessly integrated. While customer data is often used to market to us, it is rarely used to deliver a delightful experience. And, innovation from one company is rarely additive to that of another company.

If we were to evolve the notion of the Perfect Trip, we needed to align and directly connect our benefit to how the customer and supplier benefitted. We needed to enable innovation from one company to connect with and benefit innovation from another company – on a global basis. Sarosh has taken the vision of the Perfect Trip and given it a foundation upon which it can become a reality. It is Travel Unbundled.

Spotnana is an open platform – from the system of record to the integration of content, to mid-office services to the booking engine. All in an open API model that anyone can build upon. It is AWS for the multi-trillion dollar travel industry. It is a platform upon which we can innovate together.

Spotnana will serve 4 customers: Corporate customers, Travel Management Companies (TMCs), technology companies, and supplier partners.

  1. Spotnana will package its own open platform into a global TMC offering and serve corporate customers directly – in a consumption driven solution where the interests of the customer and Spotnana are aligned every day and in every transaction.
  2. Spotnana will also make its platform available to TMC partners, who can use all or some of the Spotnana platform and integrate with their own or partner services to deliver unique fully branded solutions to their own customers. As new services are offered in the Spotnana platform (whether from Spotnana or from our technology and supplier partners) those services are immediately available to our TMC partners.
  3. Spotnana partners with a wide range of technology partners to seamlessly integrate with spend management, meeting management, budgeting and forecasting, HRMS solutions, business intelligence solutions and a wide range of other products. These partnerships will grow over time, limited only by the innovation capacity of our industry.
  4. Finally Spotnana will serve our supplier partners. Every travel supplier should be able to offer their differentiated content directly to the customer [within the customer’s policy]. You will also see our supplier partners leverage the Spotnana platform to build custom applications to serve their customers wherever the customer wants to engage with their suppliers [web, mobile, kiosk, etc].

Travel Unbundled, will unlock innovation in the travel industry. It will bring about the Perfect Trip.

My partners and I are honored to work alongside Sarosh, Shikhar and the growing Spotnana team and ecosystem.

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