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Why building travel products is hard

February 01, 2024
By Andrew Sheivachman
Categories Innovation

More companies are adding travel booking to their suite of customer offerings. Selling travel is a natural complementary fit for many technology providers, financial institutions, and expense management providers.

Building a travel solution from the ground up, however, is a costly and time-consuming effort. Bad travel experiences can lead your customers to become frustrated with your product and leave them with a negative impression of your brand.

Here’s why building travel products is hard for companies outside of travel, and ways for technology and finance leaders to overcome the challenges that make it difficult to sell travel effectively.

Lengthy time to revenue

Developing and launching a world-class travel experience for your users is a surprisingly complicated process.

It will take years to select the right travel content sources, hire the right leaders and engineers, build the technical bones of your travel solution, deliver sufficient features to meet market expectations, get the right accreditations and licenses in the markets you serve, hire travel agents, connect directly with suppliers, and integrate your new offering into your product.

When you build on your own, it takes a long time to begin generating travel revenue while you accrue the costs of building, maintaining, and then improving your travel offering to meet your customers’ needs.

When you choose a travel partner like Spotnana, you can begin selling travel in a matter of weeks instead of years. Spotnana’s Travel-as-a-Service platform offers a variety of intuitive deployment options including a white labeled online booking tool, embeddable UI components, and APIs. 

Our open platform has been built from the ground up to integrate into other systems, providing a seamless way for companies to begin generating travel revenue without a huge investment in time and resources.

Brex Travel, for instance, was built in just a few months using elements of Spotnana’s Travel-as-a-Service platform.

Building outside your core product

Building a travel solution requires a nuanced understanding of the intricacies of the global travel industry. 

Travel solutions require many integrations with travel-specific services that handle ticketing, accounting, payments, quality control, unused ticket management, and more. It’s complex to integrate disparate content sources and automate things like exchanges, cancellations, and redemption of unused ticket credits in an integrated way.

Travel is a mature market, and the first online booking tools were created over 25 years ago. As a result, both travelers and administrators expect a ton of functionality in any new travel solution on day one. 

Spotnana brings your customers the fastest and most intense innovation the travel industry has seen, with industry-leading features like unused ticket management, self-service changes for travelers, direct connections to leading global suppliers for content, advanced policy management, and built-in sustainability tracking with available carbon offsetting.

As Spotnana improves and adds new features, your customers benefit without any additional investment from you.

Complexity of travel commercials and technology

Beyond building the technical infrastructure to support selling and servicing travel, new travel sellers must navigate a maze of complicated issues related to travel commercials and legal regulations.

You will need to spin up legal entities, points of sale, distribution deals, and partnerships with industry tech providers to make your tech stack function in each country you want to operate in. It can take years to get the necessary approvals and negotiations done in each individual market, leading to staggering complexity.

Instead of building and maintaining your own legal and commercial agreements, you can use Spotnana’s licenses, partnerships, and tech stack to deploy your travel solution quickly based on your needs. You get the world’s widest possible array content at the best available prices for your customers, along with a full suite of management and analytics tools that meet the needs of your customers.

Labor for agents and customer service

You may think that building an online booking tool for your customers will allow you to provide automated exchanges, cancellations, and refunds on a self-service basis. Think again. These capabilities are exceptionally difficult to develop for each content source due to API limitations, and travelers often want to speak to an agent to handle complex change requests.

Bad customer service will have ramifications for your customer retention and travel revenue if you don’t have an efficient travel operations infrastructure for servicing your travelers. Hiring an army of highly-trained travel agents to solve problems and navigate complicated technology tools is expensive and time consuming.

Spotnana channel partners can use Spotnana agents to service their customers, or train their own staff to use Spotnana’s Agent Desktop, with built-in automations and efficiencies that increase customer satisfaction while reducing costs and time needed to service travelers.

Our best-in-class technology means you can serve travelers more efficiently with fewer agent touches, reducing servicing costs and protecting your margins..

Integration into your product suite

If you’re a fintech, expense management tool, or technology provider, adding travel to your product suite also requires building robust and reliable data connections to ensure customer information flows efficiently and securely between different systems.

You need a partner with the right APIs and integration framework to make implementation simple, as well as the security compliances to give your customers peace of mind.

Spotnana’s extensible infrastructure and API-friendly architecture makes it simple to build the relevant data connections for your needs with SOC2 and ISO compliance.

Spotnana has implemented an ISMS system and obtained ISO 27001:2013 certification. We also comply with trust services security criteria under AICPA and have obtained an independent auditor report for SOC2 Type 2 compliance. You can check out our Security and trust page to learn more.

Why partner or build?

More companies are looking to partner with Travel-as-a-Service platforms instead of building on their own. If you’re looking to learn more about the benefits of partnering when compared to building your own travel infrastructure, visit our guide to learn more.