John F. Rizzo, Deem’s Chief Executive Office, Chief Operating Officer and President talked with Finance Monthly about taking the pain out of business travel for everyone – from travel agents and travel managers to travelers and suppliers. It’s all about innovation and simplification.
Could you explain the concept behind Deem?
Deem is driving to change the way business travel costs are controlled by designing a platform to ensure that employees spend as little as possible to achieve the results they need. This is in contrast to the travel market in general, which is dominated by one player who has grown complacent and focuses on controlling travel costs at the expense report stage, after the trip is complete and the capital has been spent. The world of corporate travel is eager for an alternative that listens and responds fast and is on the side of the traveler, the travel manager and the CFO – all of which are concerned about productivity and cost control. The timing is right for a company like Deem that is tech-smart, market-savvy and hungry.
Our approach is All Business. No Trip. That means that the most difficult part of any business trip is too often the trip itself and this is not what travelling is supposed to be like. Deem makes it painless for the traveler to get down to business without distraction, simpler for the travel manager and management company to keep track of all the moving parts, and easier for partners to get the information they need to stay competitive. The Deem Work Fource platform is designed for the entire business travel ecosystem, using machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Deem’s suite of tools range from a dynamic traveler booking platform, travel manager cost controls, travel agency service technology and supplier revenue opportunities, including the world’s largest car service affiliate network and operator solutions. We have more than 35,000 corporate customers in 61 countries, speaking 15+ languages – including the world’s largest travel management companies. Our headquarters is in San Francisco, but we have people located all around the globe.
What makes the company unique?
Deem is the only company in the corporate travel space that considers each of the constituents in corporate travel – the traveller, the travel manager, the travel management company and the supplier. Most companies focus on just one at the expense of others. The reason why this is important is because if travellers book off platform, costs run wild (studies have shown 15% more costs if booked off a platform), travellers have more hassles, which makes them less productive during the trip. This results in travel managers not being able to control costs and travel management companies not being able to service travellers when things aren’t going well on the trip (i.e. flight delays, overbooked hotels, etc.). At Deem, we create solutions that make life easier for the entire travel ecosystem, saving time, money and hassle.
What would you say are the company’s top priorities towards its clients?
Our main priority is to build dynamic and personalized solutions for the entire travel ecosystem and make every business trip painless. We have created a booking solution so intuitive that it makes the traditional travel and expense process obsolete – our artificial intelligence and machine learning systems do it all for you!
What challenges would you say you and the firm encounter on a regular basis?
At Deem, we are always pushing the pace of innovation. We’re trying to build technologies that don’t exist – there’s a certain level of resistance when you move at this speed.
Another challenge that we face is connected to helping CFO’s think differently about solving cost problems at the front end of the travel process; rather than at final expense report stage when it’s too late.
How are these challenges set to change, in conjunction with the advent of AI and machine learning and the potential future needs of clients?
Thus far, we have been actively incorporating AI into our products over the past year to bring that technology to market today. However, we will need to innovate faster and better, in order to stay ahead of our competitors.
What has been Deem’s biggest achievement in the past year or so?
Releasing our newest platform Deem Work Fource – a seamless travel management and booking platform, is definitely one of our major achievements.
We are also very proud of introducing Intelligent Attach for hotels and car service. This solution increases the likelihood of travelers booking a hotel or car service with their air. This helps significantly with compliance and duty of care (knowing where your employees are is more important in a world that’s increasingly affect by terrorism and upheaval on a global scale) and streamlines the traveler itinerary.
Can you tell us a bit about Deem’s Open Expense solution?
Deem’s Open Expense solution allows us to integrate seamlessly with any expense provider on the market, including ChromeRiver, and others. If a travel management company or corporation is looking for a best in breed solution to their travel management, this allows them to choose exactly the right provider in every case, rather than being forced into using a subpar travel tool that comes along with their expense provider creating travel that’s more expensive and includes more hassle.
What’s your outlook for the future of the company?
We’re growing fast, signing new customers who are encouraging us to do more, launching new products and adding global reach. We are hugely optimistic about the future!