Perfect Trip DevCon Opens Access to $250 Billion Market

A developer conference and associated awards package aims to create a developer community around business travel – a market worth over $250 billion each year. The Perfect Trip DevCon is the brainchild of Concur, a travel and expense automation service, built on a range of web and software as a service technologies and making use of a wide variety of financial and travel APIs (and accessible via the Concur API).

The Perfect Trip DevCon will be held on 2 October, 2013 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. While focused on introducing developers to a wide range of APIs available with which to build business travel applications, the event will also present prizes for entrants in the Perfect Trip Fund Awards – currently open until 3 September.

Speaking with ProgrammableWeb, John Dietz, VP of Platform Marketing at Concur Technologies told us:

“Most of the innovation we see has come from leisure travel and there are few startups in the business travel sector. This is a real opportunity: business travellers want more solutions - apps like plnnr and TripIt but available in the business context. The Perfect Trip DevCon is the start of our conversation with travel developers. At the moment, the sector is really made up of a bunch of disparate developers and we want to use the Perfect Trip DevCon to jumpstart a community.”

The event will also mark a change in Concur’s culture around opening up APIs. At recent events, Concur – which processed $50 billion in travel expenses last year – has argued for the importance of building out a business travel ecosystem.

As a move towards this, Dietz explained, its approach to providing access to APIs has changed:

“We have an app center divided into apps for me (which empower the business traveller) and apps for my company (which are enterprise-style apps that typically IT would install across a company’s networks). In the past, if you wanted to access our enterprise apps you would call Concur and negotiate an agreement and then get access to our APIs.

Now, in our 'apps for me' marketplace, we know the itinerary of 20 million business travellers and, if the traveller wants to share their itinerary, we can make those itineraries available. We use OAuth2.0 to manage sharing of customer itineraries and we are introducing a click-through agreement so you come to the Concur Portal, use our Sandbox to test the APIs, and if you want to use them in your apps, you can sign a click-through agreement online with certification and certain safeguards, of course.”

The aim of this approach to encourage developers to create more business travel apps in the lucrative market. For example, in 2012, total expenditure on ancillary fees (airline clubs, priority access, seat upgrades, ticket changes) jumped to $58 million, almost double what was spent in 2011 ($30 million). Some of this would be no doubt due to excessive wait times at the airport, or arriving too late to catch the flight:

“One mashup that hasn’t been solved yet is to know when to leave for the airport. There are a variety of APIs available to tell me if my plane is on time, and how long the TSA queue is but nobody can tell me if I should leave my house at 9 am or 10 am. As opposed to leisure travellers, business travellers would pay for that information via an application.”

The Perfect Trip DevCon will include companies presenting travel APIs including Glympse API, Evature API, and LevelUp API. Concur will also be launching their new eReceipt API which aims to auto-populate a travel expense report based off scanned receipts.

For developers who want to get started now, the Perfect Trip Awards are now open and accepting submissions to 3 September. Developers can submit their travel app idea and be in the running for monetary prizes and access to VC mentorship.

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