Q&A: How Launchpad helped to launch Taptrip

Taptrip exhibited in the 2019 Business Travel Show Launchpad and is returning as an exhibitor in 2020 with a stand on the main show floor. Co-founder Neil Ruth tells us more about the decision behind exhibiting, and how the company has enjoyed meteoric success since

Why did you apply for a Launchpad stand at Business Travel Show 2019?
Launchpad offers a unique platform for disruptive start-ups to showcase their products, directly to the industry that they are looking to target. This supports innovation and the evolution of the industry.

What stage had you reached as a business?
We were pre-launch. As a result, we wanted to use Launchpad to drive more signups to our waiting list. The social media polling stage of last year’s Disrupt competition was an excellent tool in this regard.

Tell us a bit about your business.
Taptrip is a new approach to business travel. The solution caters primarily to the under-served SME market. The platform supports businesses with structure and insight into their travel spend and customers see typical savings of over 30 per cent.

We want travellers to love Taptrip and the ‘traveller-first’ approach. The goal is to bring the personalisation and user experience of a service such as Spotify or Netflix, to business travel. This has resulted in compliance levels of over 95 per cent.

How did being at the show help?
The platform was validated by respected experts within the industry. Subsequently it not only elevated the Taptrip profile but also provided the base for a lot of new connections.

Since the show, Taptrip has won best UK start up, been accepted onto the Barclays powered by Techstars accelerator in New York and launched in the US.

Tell us about the process of entering the start-up awards at Business Travel Show.
The process was detailed, as expected, but not arduous. The questions are tailored in a way that they give entrants an opportunity to assess their current situation. This inevitably yields a lot of insight into next steps.

And what did it mean to you to win?
It was sincerely unexpected given our infancy, but incredibly flattering to be voted winners by those who have so much insight into the business travel industry.

How have things progressed – product and business wise – since you were at the show in February?
Taptrip launched in August 2018 as a team of three and now employs ten, including the user experience (UX) lead from PlayStation. Growth has been exponential, and the feedback has been incredible.

Taptrip now has strategic partnerships with the likes of WeWork and Barclays and many more areas soon to go live. The company remains intent on making business travel booking ‘more buzz and less bore’.

And how do you see the future of Taptrip?
2020 will a big year. We have a massive announcement to make at the 2020 Business Travel Show. We are working on some innovative partnerships, particularly across FinTech and the first will go live in Q2 next year. We have just launched a closed beta in the US. We had our first booking late November and have a waiting list of hundreds of users.

Most of all, Taptrip will break the traditional routes to market, through more creative alliances and make managing business travel even more accessible to SMEs.

What advice would you give to other travel start-ups?
Enjoy the early moments. Diaries and photographs are a great opportunity to show progress and the journey to success.

Avoid burnout. Take time out because it reaps much better longer-term productivity.

And finally get used to hearing ‘no’ from investors, but don’t be afraid to say it yourself. Start-up owners know their business best.

Why should they apply for a Launchpad stand?
There is no reason that a start-up should not apply. None.

What will it mean to you to come back to the show in 2020 and be on the main show floor with the other big suppliers?
Taptrip will be there to show the progression and evolution of not only our vision but the latest technology inside of a working product. Taptrip is a clear example that the travel industry still innovates, and that innovation is encouraged and welcomed.

We will also be celebrating the fact that platform is used and loved by thousands of business travellers.

What does the future of corporate travel technology look like?
Frictionless. Automated. Simple. Gamified. Enjoyable. Compliant.

Climate change awareness is at a peak, how do you think this will affect travel over the next two to three years?
It is not just travellers. All humans have a responsibility to be eco-friendly and live as sustainably as possible. There’s a plethora of innovation to support this. Adoption of alternatives and making smarter choices, will become even more prominent. At Taptrip, we are a paper free business, we have ditched the business cards, pool ride with each other when that’s an option and are always conscious and considerate of environmental choices.

How would you define conscious travel/travel management?
It’s highly relative but acknowledging that there is an issue that needs to be addressed, is a good start. In practice it comes down to business choices, not just in travel, but even to something as granular as a cleaning product.

Does Taptrip make it easier for bookers to choose sustainable suppliers and make more environmentally friendly choices?
Yes – and we continue to increase the scale of these options where possible. For example, the Taptrip loyalty programme allows for travellers to donate their rewards to a charity that offsets carbon footprint. Further developments may include an option to put these rewards into sustainable investments and the ability to filter flight searches by emissions.

Taptrip is exhibiting at Business Travel Show 2020, which takes place from 26-27 February at Olympia London. Register now for free at businesstravelshow.com/register

Launchpad entries for the 2020 event close on Friday, 20 December 2019, with only a limited number of stands left. Start-ups are invited to apply at businesstravelshow.com/launchpad

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