The only real VAR in Travel

The Business Travel Show starts tomorrow, and with that we wanted to highlight another of the Europe Innovation Faceoff finalists who represent the most cutting edge products, tech and services developed by startups to address big challenges facing the business travel industry.

The Innovation Faceoff takes place online and will be streamed live to visitors attending the in person event on 30th September to 1st October at ExCeL London. You can simply register here to get a free pass to both. Startup number four... 

Element Travel Technology

Gavin Smith, Director at Element Travel Technology gives us insight on the business. 

Why did you start Element?

Working at Concur, responsible for travel management company partners, I was not able to bring on new TMCs due to them not being able to meet the minimum requirements. These were way out of their reach. Being part of SAP, you come across new sales and marketing channels, and one of those is their VAR Channel. I had a look at what they did and also other technology companies and found they all had a VAR network to sell to smaller businesses who wanted their products but were too small to manage directly.

Knowing that SAP Concur, Amadeus, GetThere and other large providers were not taking on new partners or were scaling back on existing ones, made us look at the opportunity a lot closer.

It is all about timing. A younger workforce has driven the need for businesses to provide travel and expense technology. TMCs had to respond to this, but when they went to the established players, they could not get access to the products. This did open the door for new providers, which has increased competition.

Though for us, the time was now right to approach primary suppliers about a VAR relationship. They had demand that they didn’t and couldn’t meet or fulfil. As it would not make commercial sense to do it. So, we did and launched in Oct 2019. We are based in the UK, but support EMEA and JAPA.

What do you do?

We make selecting, adopting, and maximising the value of tech easy. We are travel technology specialists with over 20 years' real-world experience in TMC operations and corporate travel.

Whether it is corporate on-line booking systems, mid-to-back office software or chatbot servicing, our partnerships with leading travel-tech providers give TMCs access to new, cutting edge technology, backed by the all-important layer of personalised consultancy, service and on-going support. In an ever-evolving technological landscape, smaller TMCs can find it hard to support the increasing technological demands of their customers. We supply access to new, cutting edge technology supported by personalised consultancy, services, and on-going tech support.

We have focused on developing our ability around NDC to advise the SME market and connect them to the right suppliers. We work with a carefully selected group of cutting-edge tech products from the world's leading providers. We help our TMCs customers select and implement the best choice for them.

What problem do you solve?

Element enables smaller TMCs to compete with their larger industry peers and to continue to grow their businesses in line with client demands for technologies effectively and associated services. There is no one who can provide Expense and 3 OBT, with more tech to come on one contract, with one service package. Straight away our clients can off their clients, a choice. Something that they cannot do now, as they can only focus on one product, due to resource and investment restrictions.

Examples of where we enable smaller TMCs to compete, is that when they work with us, they get Certified staff with years of experience from the off, we support a couple of clients with SAP Concur, they have a resell deal, but we do all the support for them and their clients. This has helped them win business off other TMCs due to our experience.

Amadeus and various other primary suppliers understand that they now need to act as true tech companies by creating an indirect sales and marketing channel that looks after the SME segment, those who move first will increase share of market.

We have not found another VAR in the corporate travel space, there are referral agreements and some hybrid versions, but nothing that works in the way we do. Which we believe makes Element a unique business supporting TMCs and their clients.

The primary suppliers have demand for their products from smaller TMCs and they cannot fulfil this requirement. This has led to dissatisfaction from Travel Managers, Travellers, and their businesses in general. As they cannot get the tech, they want from the service provider of their choice. Not having been able to supply the technology your clients or prospects want should not be a reason that any agency should have to provide.