Almost three decades into selling flights online (thanks Travelocity!), the cobweb of infrastructure that supports the travel industry has not modernized to meet the complexity growing at the surface.
Code-share agreements, ancillaries, vacation packages, layers of wholesalers, and other “business innovations” have led to booking and customer service nightmares for passengers, agencies, and airlines themselves. A simple change or refund often requires a call to customer service (have four hours to wait?) that descends into manual reading and interpretation of fare rules, calls from OTAs to airlines for clarifications, tax estimations (you’d be surprised), and other unenviable manual tasks. As important as the Global Distribution Systems (GDS’s) have been in digitizing the travel market, the pandemic highlighted the challenges the industry faces when so many of its “normal” operational processes still require human artistry to Get Stuff Done.
We believe Deal Engine, which announced its $5.3M Seed round led by F-Prime Capital today, has an opportunity to be the travel industry’s agent for digital transformation. By building a new infrastructure layer that abstracts away the complexities of fare rules and travel policies with a powerful machine-learning based engine, Deal Engine enables their partners (OTAs, TMCs, or airlines) to automate the transactions that used to be manual. The most complex changes and refunds can now be executed with a simple API call, initiated by a customer service rep or the customer themselves with the push of a button. This capability has the potential to transform the post-booking customer experience, shifting focus from cost reduction to revenue generation — all while giving the consumer the amazing experience that online travel promises.
The leadership team at Deal Engine — including Alex Jara, David Gomez-Urquiza and Isabel Carrera Quiroga — possess tremendous courage and domain expertise to tackle such a massive problem in travel. They have not been shy about bringing their disruptive solution to the behemoths we all know and sometimes love, leading Deal Engine to serve a who’s who of players in the travel industry. Betsy Mulé and I are excited to be partnering with this team, which is doing the truly hard work of making travel better for all of us.
The most complex changes and refunds can now be executed with a simple API call, initiated by a customer service rep or the customer themselves with the push of a button.