TravelPerk launches an open API platform to extend its work trip SaaS

Business travel SaaS startup TravelPerk has launched an open API-based platform — letting its customers and partners build custom integration and apps.

The initial APIs cover HR and expense management use-cases, but more are set to be added as usage and demand grows.

“Applications we’ve seen being built on the platform already include HR functionality (think BambooHR), expense management systems, company payment cards, financial reporting, and ERP,” says co-founder and CEO Avi Meir, discussing the launch.

Longer term he says the hope is the platform generates “a huge range” of additional functionality for customers to draw on.

“Many of our customers are tech companies full of developers, so we’re confident that if we give them the tools it will be boundless what they can create,” he adds. “In fact, we’re working with one customer already who is using our API to build a custom approvals process because they need a more complex system than the standard offering.”

TravelPerk has been running a private beta over the last few months with 20+ partners and customers, but is now flipping the switch to open it to all users.

“We are providing a fully fledged toolkit for developers, from the most curated developer hub and API documentation, to a sandbox environment to test their solutions for quality assurance,” adds Ross McNairn, TravelPerk’s chief product officer, in a statement.

“We do not see TravelPerk as a silo tool, but rather one that needs to coexist with hundreds of other SaaS tools. Our ultimate goal is for partners and developers to consider TravelPerk as the platform to build and grow with us. Easy to understand, easy to build, and easy to grow.”

Business downtime resulting from the coronavirus pandemic slashing global travel has given TravelPerk a window of opportunity to focus on product dev.

“It’s no surprise that the [business travel] market isn’t yet back to normal but we know that if we keep investing in creating the products businesses need to travel confidently we’ll emerge from this stronger,” says Meir, who notes that it’s been seeing signs of a recovery in some of its markets — with domestic segment usage in Germany and the U.S. having returned to “pre-pandemic levels”.

Returning to the API, Meir says customer demand was a factor in the decision to augment its business travel SaaS with a free and fully open API platform: “Part of the reason we’ve brought this in was the huge demand for this kind of product from many of our customers, particularly SMEs. On the back of that demand, we’re expecting to see tens or hundreds of applications and customer integrations built in the coming months.”

The other driver is cultural, per Meir — who says the startup has a “philosophy of being open, collaborative and innovative” which he claims sets it apart from the “current, closed systems” offered by legacy travel industry players.

“Creating this marketplace means we can provide customers with a wide choice of expert-created functionality, rather than forcing a single proprietary solution on them,” he adds.

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