Cornerstone CEO Mat Orrego interviews Jack Dow, Founder of Grapevine, to discuss improvements to ancillary attachment rates how to best capture in-destination spend.
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Hi everyone. My name is Mat Orrego. I’m the CEO of Cornerstone Information Systems. I am here today with Jack Dow, founder of Grapevine. Hello Jack.
Hey Mat. How you doing?
I’m doing well. Tell us about Grapevine and what inspired you to start the company?
Well, grapevine started life as a B2C company started off the back of time in Australia that I had — I did a lot of travel, did a lot of business travel and I knew that personalization and essentially building your confidence in travel decisions was really difficult. So we started as a B2C, a consumer platform, and we presented that at Travel Technology Europe a few years ago now. And the unintended consequences — we had a bunch of travel businesses come and tap us on the shoulder and say, could you do that for us?
And so we spoke to various TMCs and hotel groups at the time and said, what if we created a digital concierge that tells your customers what to do in destination? We ended up speaking to the TMCs in more detail. And they said, look, if you’re doing the in-destination stuff, is there any way you could also retarget travelers with hotels, car, airport parking, fast track security — the core ancillaries that lot of TMCs have very low attachment rates. And we said, absolutely, we can do that as well. And we ended up surveying over 60 TMCs and the resounding feedback we got was that the core ancillaries were priority over the in destination content. They wanted that eventually, but being able to improve attachment rates of hotels and stuff was really important to them. So we started with that.
Wonderful. So, so Jack, it sounds like you are enabling them to potentially sell more. What’s been the uptake on that?
Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head. So what we do is we take data from the TMC or our technology partners, and identify from that data what’s been booked and what haven’t yet been booked. And we also look at historical data to see if there’s any patterns in that that might help us make good suggestions going forward. And so it’s data driven. What we love about business travel is the frequency of travel. The data, not just from you, but from your colleagues and people like you. And also the fact that to a degree, TMCs are agnostic to the hotel supplier or the airline supplier. So you’re getting all the data from the entire trip for everything that’s been booked through the TMC. Obviously the whole is where people haven’t yet booked through the TMC, but that’s the gap we’re trying to bridge.
What about travel policy? How does travel policy get considered here?
Absolutely. And this has been probably the biggest eye opener for me over the last six months or so. Since we were over in the US to innovate and various things like that is the inbound interest from corporates who are really focused, especially post COVID in platform bookings in policy bookings, but also providing their employees, the end travelers with a personalized experience and better retailing. I think it was Festive Road the did a survey and 92% of them said that more personalization was the top of their agenda. So being able to offer a really good personalized service delivers value for the end user, and then that gets them to book on platform, which from a duty of care perspective is a real sort of tick in the box for the corporates.
And you’ve gotten some great recognition here. Business travel show, BTN innovate. You’ve gotten some number one positions. Tell me about that. And how has that helped?
Yeah, thank you. We had a really great end to last year. We managed to take home the People’s Choice Award in the Travel Technology Show in September, and then took home the Judges Choices in both the Business Travel Show Europe and Innovate. So it was the two things that really stuck me. The recognition is great, but it’s getting the feedback. Travel is not unique, but it’s in being a relationship driven industry, but it is one of many industries that are relationship driven. And as someone who’s keen to spread the word about his product and get feedback, that’s really important.
So one of the challenges in travel has always been how you connect everything up. What are your impressions of that today? And how are you preparing the Grapevine platform to be an integrated tool? One that integrates easily and with a high level of adoption after?
Yeah, again, you’ve hit the spot because one of the biggest challenges in travel is that most TMCs or most travel businesses have a relatively fragmented tech stack. That means that for newcomers like myself and Grapevine can be hard to get the data you require or the integrations you require to be able to deliver your service. So, one of the things we worked really hard on over the last six to nine months is building relationships with the likes of Cornerstone, who we know we can get a good chunk of the data we require to deliver our service, because our goal is to be a plug and play solution. The default setting in most people’s minds in travel is [that] integrations are costly and time consuming. So our goal with a partnership like ours with cornerstone is to have that integration in place already. So we can say to people, ‘Hey, we can get up and running with them in under a week.’
Jack, wonderful to be with you here today. I’m looking forward to working together with you and the Grapevine team and getting our systems integrated because I think there’s great power right there for both the traveler, for the seller, and for the industry in general. Thanks for being with me today. Take care,
Really excited to thanks, Mat.