The travel problem & challenges
Traveling for work is emotion and reality. Corporate travel policies are excel and fiction. How does a business traveler experience that their well-being is considered?
A business traveler needs to be willing to travel. Information on country safety, commuting responsibly, health-care & support in case of emergency, and cleanliness of the hotel, facilitate healthy decision making.
The challenge is that currently and post COVID-19, there are no user-friendly resources to comprehend and create a wholesome business travel plan based on the situation of the destination.
Roadhack will build a mobile solution that provides travelers with accurate advice for their destination based on the company’s travel policy, country, and health (DoC) information.
Roadhack calls this: the magic of taking a trip before you book, or take it. A destination-based solution translating the travel policy to traveler reality and well-being, to get the industry back on its feet and travelers in the air again.
COVID-19 has shown how hard it is for:
- Corporate Travel Managers to bridge between travel policy and reality and reach their employees to ensure their well-being is at a good level.
- Corporate Travelers, it is hard to figure out what their company travel policy allows, and what country restrictions are.
- Corporate Travelers, to decide to take a trip – or leave it!
In order to solve this problem, you bring these problems into a love triangle: Traveler, Company, Country. If all are given love, travel will be able to take off again.
Roadhack is presenting a solution to give love to all three in the love triangle. We call it: the magic of taking a trip before you book, or take it.
We would not be Roadhack if we did not try to tie a few parts out of the 3 challenges together. Our main focus has been on Travel & Experiences, with a side of Sustainability & Relief and a dash of Hygiene & Health. Why? Because you need a bit of everything when you need to decide if you want to back on the road again.
We focused on health concerns, the well-being of travelers and businesses, sustainability, travel experience before and during the trip, mobile services, and environmental impact.
We present a platform that helps both Corporate Business Traveler and the Corporate Travel Manager being well prepared before and during the Business Trip. The Travel Manager can fully customize the platform so that the Corporate Business Traveler feels supported and taken care of by the company. That makes the decision to go on their business trip easier: they have a better overview of what reality awaits them and what to take into consideration while traveling. A strong sustainable and Traveler-Centric solution which takes care of the Travelers well-being and their mental health, while contributing to a great company culture for both existing employees and next-gen talent to join.
The best about this platform is, it will still be relevant after COVID-19 has passed. It can be used as a Safety & Security platform, fully customized to the companies’ Travel Policy.
This solution ties the travel policy and the traveler's need for information together. A deep dive shows three parts that have been connected to ensure a wholesome experience for both the Corporate Business Traveler and the Travel Manager.
1 Travel Policy Platform: a Travel Manager can log onto this platform to configure elements of the travel policy such as preferred airlines, hotels, and other suppliers. They can choose what countries are approved to travel to. In addition, they can input how travelers should move around using ground transport or where they should eat. They can configure a checklist that will appear for the corporate traveler to include essential business letters, reading the policy, or picking up a health kit for on the road. It also gives a complete overview of all the measures that Airlines take related to COVID-19, gathered via the ATPCO API. A complete country overview with all the COVID-19 rules gives guidance on when travel to a specific country can be allowed again.
2 Corporate Destination App: a Corporate Business Traveler solution that holds a treasure of information. the traveler is able to search for a destination. The destination overview shows varied information that provides travelers with accurate advice for their destination based on the company’s travel policy, country, and health information. The app is fully powered by the input of the travel manager portal and several APIs. It shows if the destination is approved and allows you to get notifications in case the situation changes for the chosen destination.
- The country information shows the COVID-19 situation, entry restrictions to your destination and back home again, and visa information. This is taken out of the Sherpa API.
- The city tab displays information taken covidcontrols.co API and the Sitata API. It is a deep dive into how you would behave in your destination and focusses on information that is relevant to eating, entertainment, transport, and the local office.
- The well-being tab is meant to make travelers feel taken care of by their company; it shows tips on how to travel relaxed and healthy. It’s about exercise, what happens in case of quarantine and how to beat mental unrest or tiredness.
- Tapping the environment tab, you are shown the carbon footprints for flight and hotel, as well as your total average score for a trip from your destination to Amsterdam.
- The trusted suppliers tab reveals what hotel, airline, and other suppliers are preferred and it allows you to browse to supplier details to see why they are selected.
3 Corporate Travel App Check-In: After you have booked your trip to Amsterdam, your corporate travel manager wants to make sure you feel at ease in these times. A check-in pop up shows your travel manager, who’s asking how you are doing. The traveler can input how they feel and what their emotions are. Based on their input, they receive advice. In this case, they’re doing good and given a small tip to take care of their mindfulness.
How we built it
To come up with our idea we listened carefully to the wishes of travelers and travel managers that we speak to regularly. What we understood is that there's a need for a lot of information before a traveler books their trip. Generic travel information can be found in many places but it's difficult to find specific information tailored to the need of the business travel industry. That is why we designed two interfaces in our solution that exactly fit the need of both the business traveler and the travel manager.
In order to make our software available to as many devices as possible, we choose to build a responsive web app. For both the front- and backend we're using NodeJS. For the Travel Manager portal, we rely on PHP. For communication between these different modules, we're sending JSON data models via secure connections.
When a traveler fills in the required fields, this information will be passed to the backend. The backend will collect all the necessary data from as many APIs as possible, which currently are CovidControls, Sherpa & Sitata. All this data will be bundled in a compact and usable data model for the frontend and then shown in a pleasant and intuitive UI to the traveler.
What we're proud of
This one can be short and sweet. We are super proud and happy with the feedback we got from existing customers. They think the solution is cool, looks good and extremely user-friendly. The customer we branded it to says this is “exactly what is needed” in these times and we have “listened to both them and their travelers” when coming up with this concept. They state that sustainable solutions are hard to find and truly innovative. In addition, they believe in having everything in one place and easily available through a mobile solution.
We have delivered more than we expected we would be able to deliver due to strong teamwork. We had a team consisting of two designers, three developers, and one configuration/content manager.
We tried new things and have worked on new skills. One of our designers did not know Sketch, we have never created a Webapp or coded in NodeJS and Bootstrap before. Vavoom!
When presenting our designs to the company, colleagues reacted with enthusiasm and asked when we will turn this into a real product for our customers.
What tech we used to build it
We used Heroku for our web app & backend. This provides us with flexibility and fast deployment for testing and agility.
Both the web app & backend run on NodeJS. The web app uses the Express framework, powered by the Handlebars templating engine.
The Travel Policy tool is built on PHP and uses MySQL as a database. It's hosted in the cloud on an Apache webserver.
3rd Party integrations
- Used for quarantine measures, health declarations, visa requirements, business letter requirements, entry restrictions
CovidControls.co API (we had to save the data locally due to request limits).
- Used for all COVID-19 case related numbers, restaurant & entertainment.
- Used for the different measures that Airlines take in terms of hygiene and other COVID-19 measures and giving the travel manager one overview of all the measures.
- Used for enhanced COVID-19 sickness, deaths, recovery, and percentages of the population to give travelers an overview of the risk for a specific destination.
- Adobe CC suite
- Premiere Rush
Links to test the solution:
The web app is best viewed on mobile, preferable an iPhone X or bigger. You can add it to your home screen to get the best experience. After opening the below link in Safari, press the share icon (middle icon on bottom bar) and press "Add to Home Screen". It will show up as a tile on your iPhone and once you click on it, you have the best experience.
The Travel Policy tool can be used on your computer. It requires login details, which are prefilled. Just press "log-in".
All the source code can be found on the Roadmap Github repository:
Next steps for Roadhack
We are keen to determine what is viable for our business and adapt it to our own product. We have never ventured into the pre-travel, or even pre-booking, space before. It would require extensive qualitative research with travelers and travel teams to figure out how to incorporate this into our current product set. Basically, we are going to ask the opinion of our customers, prospects, and base of business travelers.
Some things we want to do:
- Obviously, the Travel Policy Platform should be enriched with more options. Imagine sending your travelers messages, or being able to configure even more (e.g. based on department, roles, the purpose for travel)
- The Corporate Destination app needs to be improved and all edge cases need to be covered. Right now, we are unsure if all edge cases are covered, because we have hacked this. It needs more careful planning and thought. After that, it needs to be tested with Corporate Business Travelers.
- Calculate a score based on the input of travelers and turn that into a Traveler Sustainability Score. This allows Travel Managers to change the policy depending on the average score of a destination (closing the cycle).