November 18, 2016
Maya, The Independent Self-Booking Tool Inspired By Leisure
iAlbatros, a B2B service for managing hotel reservations for business travel, has just launched a self-booking tool mobile first: Maya. It allows to book the several stages of a journey by offering the leisure navigation experience. A small revolution in a fairly inert sector.
By Julia Luczak-Rougeaux, Tom Travel, November 17th, 2016
“Created in 2011, the iAlbatros company supports companies in control and reduction of their hotel expenses by the mean of a booking tool which also includes independent establishments. It is owned by the SMT Group since 2015, specializing in the development of IT solutions. The latter has developed the BING engine for Microsoft and is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. It is Moncef Khanfir, co-founder of KDS, who also co-founded iAlbatros and now presides it. A few weeks ago, the company announced the launch of Maya, a new innovative 100% mobile self-booking tool (SBT) inspired by the leisure sector.
In the hotel business, the business travel sector is very competitive. In order to fully understand the synergies among companies, we need to focus on the expertise of Moncef Khanfir (if you know the sector by heart, you can go to the next paragraph). Today, TMCs rely on different solutions for booking hotels: Egencia uses the Expedia engine. CWT and Amex use the Travel Centric Technology solution. BCD bought BSI and HRG created its own solution. There are other Hotel Booking Agencies (HBA) like HRS, iAlbatros or Hcorpo. In addition to the HBAs, there are several SBTs: KDS, Concur, Amadeus and Traveldoo. KDS has just been bought by Amex. The scope of the HBAs is reduced and few are still independent, when the TMC are strengthened by buying these solutions or by creating theirs. In this context, Moncef Khanfir predicts the end of HBAs in their current form. That’s why iAlbatros, itself a HBA, decided to react by launching its Maya solution. “We anticipated these developments. We want to be masters of our destiny“, says the president of the company.
Other factors, this time technological, also come into play according to him: “The old solutions arrive at the end of a cycle. There are no truly mobile solutions, the legacy of current actors hampers innovation, collaborative platforms are entering, leisure affects business travel and business models are obsolete.” Above all, there has been no major newcomer to this ecosystem for the last 15 years.
A 100% mobile solution
It is by taking into account this multitude of factors that Moncef Khanfir and his team of engineers have developed Maya. The SBT is 100% mobile and therefore adapts to all interfaces. The traveler has the possibility to book their hotel, a flight (with the option of choosing his seat or adding a luggage) or a train ticket and rent a car. “Besides Egencia, it is the only tool that has a native hotel solution with no cost and no time to integrate and use”, says the co-founder. The added value of Maya, in addition to its independence, is the user experience it provides, close to leisure sites like Hipmunk or Momondo. The interface is nice and easy to use. For now, the solution is multi-GDS but with a preference for Amadeus. In 2017, new features will be added, such as the possibility to book with collaborative platforms or directly on a “team communication” tool that has the wind in its sails…Through a break with classical algorithmic programming and the integration of artificial intelligence, deployment and improvements are much faster. As for payment, several alternatives are offered: Business Travel Account, settlement account, virtual card or third-party payer.
This is one of the few solutions that take into account the needs of business travelers while also being designed for business. Funders can access a consolidated single invoice for many employees, as well as a range of services to monitor expenses. Companies can benefit from the solution via several offers: an annual license, a flexible subscription or a “pay as you use” use. “We do not want to force our customers to commit. They can use it whenever they want”, explains Moncef Khanfir.
Although the commercialization is only planned for 2017, iAlbatros has already signed with a major player: Havas. Other partnerships are also in process. So expect announcements soon.”
We invite you to watch this video with Mr Moncef Khanfir talking about Maya at the IFTM 2016 in Paris: