Bringing corporate bookings into the 21st century
At Treebo, being popular among our corporate customers is something we’re proud of. Ensuring a memorable stay for our corporates is something we deeply care about, and it starts right from the booking process.
With technology at the heart of everything we do, we set our sights on how the product team can help improve a corporate’s booking experience. That’s when something shone through — the internet wave which revolutionised so many B2C industries had completely skipped the B2B side of things.
Let us demonstrate:
Following an archaic booking process was something corporates had come to terms with. After all, there was nothing better and the business had to go places! Multiple travel requests, agents, lengthy negotiations and spiralling email threads that would put a Sunday morning novel to shame were common. To make things worse, while you were busy spell checking that three hundred word email, the room got booked.
Let’s start over.
Staring at the whiteboard with numerous little squiggles, the team had one ask — how can we simplify this? There has to be a better way. Amidst a tirade of ‘it can’t be done’s’ and ‘why bother’s’ the sheer challenge in solving this was seductive. A vision that kept gnawing at us and refused to go away. We had to do it.
And Treebo for Business was born.
We had 4 key challenges ahead of us:
Treebo offers special contracted rates to its corporate customers. The challenge was to create a personalized experience for each corporate, with its own pricing. And the answer to this challenge, and all its profound consequences was quite simply, a pricing data store.
Besides accepting the usual payment methods like Credit/Debit cards and Pay at Hotel ( think of it like COD of the hotel world), the team realized that corporates work on a credit model. They book hotels for a month and settle with the service provider within a 30 days or so cycle. To that end we created a new payment mode called “Bill to Company (BTC)” and set up internal credit control mechanisms to power the same.
Our hypothesis was that the needs of a corporate user will differ from the end customer in several areas due to factors such as high repeat rates. And this holds true. Our first level of personalization was to arrive at a set of top recommendations for each corporate based on booking history. This became a part of our homepage is one of the top used features right now. It took months of usage data and fine-tuning. But in the end, it was worth it.
A single corporate user can often be a complex establishment. It can do business under several legal entities, with each of these entities having GSTIN or tax registrations in various states as well. Selecting the right registration is imperative in helping the business in claiming tax benefits.
With this is mind, we gave our users ability to store multiple entities and their tax information. Furthermore, the portal automatically chooses the best GSTIN number to optimize one’s tax returns.
Since this was our first stab at making an online platform for our corporate customers, we wanted to reduce our time to market. The modular nature of our consumer products meant that components were reused and we didn’t reinvent the wheel each time.
Treebo for Business is now used by a majority of corporates, and is already contributing significant sales. It’s just day 1 for us though. We know we can do more.
Realising our vision of seamless business travel experience for corporates will continue being a priority. All the data gathered since launch will help the product evolve. You will also see a slew of new features including customized approval mechanisms, alternate payment modes and tracking to name a few.
So thats all folks, this is how the dream began. In the next post, we will delve into how we optimised our payment flow for the corporate user persona, launching “Saved Cards”.
The rockstars behind this product are Prashant, Ashok, Thulasi, Shreyas, Pawan, Varun, Utsav, Utkarsh, Arun, Abhishek, Nikhil, Lakshya, Ralph, Ribin, Rahul, Amit , Hardik, Soumya and yours truly. Special thanks to Ribin, Bonnie and Mo for contributing to this post!