The mini-explosion of new travel meta search players has occurred largely in the leisure market. But a young company called Enable Solutions is setting its sights on the business traveler.
Its product, dubbed mySmartTrip, is designed to accommodate business travelers needs as no other travel meta search engine does, according to Stephen Joseph, chief executive officer. But it has another salient feature that might make suppliers sit up and take notice: It costs them absolutely nothing.
MySmartTrip is entirely subscription-supported, Joseph said. We provide features and capabilities that business travelers pay for. We have no financial relationship with suppliers, he said. There is no referral fee. We dont get any kind of revenue from suppliers.
That makes mySmartTrip as economical a channel as suppliers own sites, Joseph said. We think that over time, suppliers will recognize that its one of the cheapest channels for acquiring customers.
MySmartTrips business model is also a plus for users, he said: While most search companies say their results are unbiased, users of mySmartTrip can be assured that results of their searches are unsullied by any financial considerations.
The search engine is capable of taking a customer to any supplier site that has a business partition, such as JetBlues Company Blue or American Airlines CorporateAAccess, Joseph said. Enable Solutions is in talks with several airlines to get permission to scrape their sites. Eventually, it hopes to establish XML interfaces with suppliers.
Joseph believes that a search engine can provide incremental business, particularly as suppliers expand. He is hoping companies that have resisted third-party online distribution will agree.
If youre flying from San Jose to Baltimore or from Oakland to Pittsburgh, you might not think to look at Southwest, he said.
For customers, were trying to do a bunch of things that support businesses, much more broadly than just travel search, he said.
MySmartTrip will be able to generate reports and separate travelers from other users, such as administrative assistants who book the trips. It also is approaching the search function in a way that will benefit business travelers, Joseph said.
For example, many online agencies and search engines can look for alternate airports, but mySmartTrip will take that a step further. If a traveler is doing business in Princeton, N.J., roughly midway between Newark and Philadelphia, mySmartTrip can search fares and schedules for flights to both airports simultaneously.
Enables target customer is a company thats decided not to use a travel agency, that has $200,000 or more in travel spend annually and has a bunch of travelers who spend time and effort trying to find the best flight options, Joseph said.
They are doing it partly to get the best price, but there are other aspects: the best flight times, the number of stops, the duration of the flight. They are shopping around to see the big picture.
Organizations that might fall into that category include auditors, consultants, trainers and manufacturers representatives, he said.
Lawyers are another target group, especially those involved in class actions, Joseph said. While most lawyers bill expenses back to their clients, class-action lawyers travel expenses are paid for out of their own pockets.
MySmartTrips no-advertising model also will benefit some customers while they are on the road, Joseph said. An auditor may not have access to the clients high-speed network and e-mail communications, so they still have to do dialup, he said. Online agencies have graphics and popups that slow things down for dialup users. We have a very simple textual screen, so they love us. Joseph said.