Concur has announced their acquisition of Hipmunk.
Concur is known to many corporate road warriors. The travel booking and expense management system is used by many large corporations. The clunky travel booking search engine allows companies to impose search rules such as preferred airlines and price caps.
I used Concur for 4 years and my guidance to any colleague screaming at their screen is to search on a site like Hipmunk, find what you want, then attempt to force it in Concur using various search options. Failing that, call the telephone agent.
Concur handles basic domestic trips well enough, though complex international itineraries are often beyond its means. It has improved over the years. I remember 4 years ago my wife had a trip from Seattle to Miami that her Concur recommended a 5-day Amtrak ride with multiple train changes because it was $20 less than a nonstop flight.
Hipmunk initially became known to consumers as a Kayak-like proxy for ITA searches. Their focus seems to have drifted and I have used the site less and less. Still, the underlying technology has the potential to greatly improve Concur.
The press release says what Concur values in the deal:
Hipmunk is known for delivering some of the most innovative functionality in the travel industry, particularly features and functionality that are highly relevant to and beloved by frequent travelers. The company was the first to create a website and mobile app that sorts travel results not just by price, but also key factors that are important to business travelers such as duration, stops and hotel location. Additionally, its calendar integration and hotel map search allow business travelers to easily see the best hotel and flight options based on meeting time and location. Lastly, Hipmunk is a leader in the cutting edge space of artificial intelligence-powered travel search and travel bots.
The last may be the most important: companies desperately want bot agents to cut down on traditional travel agent costs. Many of the calls agents deal with are the most mundane and I have heard industry talk that bots are the future. Think executive assistants who refuse to use Concur and call up an agent for every little thing.
Concur says it has a strategy “to deliver consumer-grade products to corporate customers.” So that corporate customers will actually use the corporate products.
I did not realize that Concur previously bought several initially consumer-focused companies that still serve consumers, so I expect Hipmunk’s tools to continue to be available to consumers:
As evident in Concur’s acquisition of TripIt, development of ExpenseIt and investment in ClearTrip, Concur has a long-held strategy of partnering with, investing in, acquiring or building consumer apps. These investments yield learnings and capabilities that enable Concur to ultimately deliver consumer-grade products to corporate customers.
Readers, are you Concur users?