The recent Business Travel Show in London brought us the opportunity to get to know better Steve Singh, managing director of Madrona Venture Group & founder of Concur. He was interviewed by Elisabeth West, managing editor of BTN Group, and during the interview, Steve explained his vision for the future in the travel industry, as well as the reasons why he has decided to invest on Spotnana and TROOP.
“Both are amazing technologies that can transform the travel industry, and they’re led by people who I felt a deep connection with. They understand their domain (travel); they understand the technology side of this industry, and they have a real compelling vision around where the travel industry it’s going to evolve and how it has to evolve”, said Singh.
TROOP, a product loved by customers
When it comes to TROOP, Steve has it clear: “It’s a fantastic product that already has some iconic customers that use it. These customers love the product because it actually delivers decision-based data based on a set of choices on where’s the best place to meet. What’s the optimal, not just from a cost perspective, but from a time perspective, from a carbon footprint perspective for you to conduct your business.”
Much is being said about the future of the sector, but for Singh the trend is positive: “Business travel will actually be bigger than it’s ever been, and the reason for this is that unbelievable rewarding experiences that come from meeting face to face, they come from spending time together. Sometimes in a structured model, sometimes in a completely unstructured model, and as much as I love Zoom and the fact that you can do a lot more without traveling, the reality is that it should be additive to it, it should make you more efficient when you do travel.”
“So I think that large business travel will continue to grow at compelling rates and be bigger than it’s ever been before. That being said, the individual components of that might change, and one of the things that’s been really fascinating to see over the last 18 months (I’m not just talking about the companies that I’m an investor), we’ve seen about a 40 or 50 percent growth in employee base over the last 18 months in the companies where Madrona is an investor. At the same time, we’ve seen little to no growth in office space, so we’re expanding the number of people we have, not expanding the number of offices. Naturally people are working in a distributed model, which by the way I think it’s great for humanity. What’s happening when you think about how you build culture, how do you actually drive a team camaraderie, how do you actually drive innovation at faster and faster rates”, he explained.
On the future of Spotnana and TROOP, the founder of Concur also commented that “you should not be overly surprised to see Spotnana and TROOP be so seamlessly integrated that they’re sharing a user profile, travel policies. That when you’re using TROOP as you book travel, it looks and feels a lot like the Spotnana experience. You should expect that companies like Center will be deeply integrated into these experiences.”
Innovation in the travel industry
A lot is changing in these times in which innovation affects practically all industries. Specifically, in the business travel industry. As Steve explains, “today when you book a large meeting, it’s a centralized decision. You go to one or two individuals or a small group within your company and you ask them to plan a meeting and then go book it. The reality is that collaboration tools should be available to everybody, and you should be able to say ‘we want to put together a three or four person meeting for whatever set of topics’, and we ought to be able to log on to TROOP and set that up, regardless of the fact that we work at different companies, regardless of the fact that it’s a small meeting, that is impromptu. Why shouldn’t that be just as easy as putting in place a large meeting. In fact, to be fair, you can use TROOP for small meetings, you can use it for large meetings.”
In conclusion, Steve also added that “we’re going to see a lot more innovation, but it’ll be specialized to whatever that company wants to focus on so Thrust for example, is focused on what are the carbon emissions and how do I minimize those emissions. Not surprisingly you’ll see tools like that integrated right into the Spotnana platform or the TROOP platform.”
If you want to see the entire interview, here is the link