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Aug 29, 2019

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Ariel Cohen

Samantha Shankman

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TripActions is experiencing exponential growth -- and it takes visionary leadership and a mission-driven culture to get there.

TripActions co-founder and CEO Ariel Cohen sat down with Phocuswire and shed light on his career and inspirations as well as the critical factors that are driving global hyper-growth at TripActions.

TripActions “is definitely playing in the big leagues,” writes reporter Mitra Sorrells in today’s article published as part of the Phocuswire “In the Big Chair” series, which features in-depth interviews with leaders across the digital travel landscape.

A Better Way

Born in Israel, Ariel attended graduate school at Northwestern University and worked at HP before launching his first startup in 2012 with TripActions co-founder Ilan Twig. During this period, Ariel and Ilan became true road warriors, taking flight upon flight to build relationships, close deals, and drive growth.

Ariel shares the story in which he realized that there had to be a way to make the entire business travel experience better, smoother, and less stressful for the traveler.

“On one international business trip, I had just gotten off a long flight in a country where I didn't speak the language. I caught sight of myself in the mirror and could barely recognize my own face. I finally made it to the hotel late at night and jetlagged, only to find that my hotel room had been cancelled,” he said.

After their first startup StreamOnce was acquired by Jive Software, Ariel and Ilan set out to make the lives of travelers easier and better, starting first with the technology they use.

“In solving the pain points of the traveler, we also believed we could solve the pain points of the enterprise, and give finance, procurement, human resources and travel program leaders a better option than the status quo,” he said.

Growth in an Outdated $1.4 Trillion Industry

Talking to Phocuswire about the evolution of the company, Ariel explained the origins of TripActions’ innovative incentive program, how AI and machine learning are being leveraged to make the booking experience as fast and easy as possible, and what factors led to TripAction’s 5X year-over-year growth. He also reflected on the company’s most recent announcement -- TripActions Consulting -- which was announced at GBTA to offer hands-on, custom assistance to enterprise leaders to build best-in-class travel management solutions.

Ariel spoke about the opportunities and shared strategies that led to the support of TripAction’s committed investors who saw a $1.4 trillion industry starved for innovation. They immediately gravitated towards Ariel and Ilan’s unique approach that put travelers first, and agreed that business travel should be a strategic level for culture and growth.

In response to competitors’ claims that they themselves have invested in innovation and traveler-centered solutions for a long time, Ariel turned to feedback from TripActions customers:. “It certainly seems out of sync with what customers say to us when they switch to TripActions,” he said.

TripActions is innovating every day to build a better end-to-end experience for all users, including travelers, executive assistants supporting travelers, and finance, procurement, and HR leaders, to truly deliver the best experience in business travel.

This includes leveraging AI and machine learning to improve the booking experience where, as a result of personalized search query results based on user preferences and past booking behavior, users select from the top 10 results returned during booking 90% of the time and select the top result an unprecedented 60% of the time. This helps TripActions bust the industry average of 60 minutes to book a trip down to an average of just six minutes on TripActions. Coupled with global, proactive 24/7/365 live human support where users get access to support agents in 60 seconds or less, TripActions customers see adoption north of 90% and traveler satisfaction at 93%.

The Human Factor That Drives Ariel

As TripActions is Ariel and Ilan’s second successful startup, Ariel shared three pieces of advice they have for entrepreneurs:

  • It’s important to be driven by your mission and crucial to hire mission-driven people aligned with your culture and values.
  • To this end, know your core values and stay true to your vision. You need to trust your vision in order for others to.
  • Build and grow a culture you believe in. We are very proud of the culture we have built at TripActions and know that continuing to foster it is essential to our continued success and growth.

Although building an incredible culture is essential, Ariel admits that it is also a challenge to maintain that culture in a stage of hyper-growth. (TripActions’ 800+ employees across its nine global offices agree that culture is one of the primary motivations for joining and staying at the company.)

Ariel also shared insights into his personal life. When he’s not building a market-leading business travel solution, Ariel loves to travel, enjoys unique dining experiences, and values the time that he spends with friends and family.

“I believe that visiting new places around the world offers an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and reflect. I have found that mini-sabbaticals have offered me a valuable chance to think and refresh. Taking time to pause and reflect is especially important when you are moving as fast as we are at TripActions,” Ariel said in the interview.

Read the full Phocuswire article to learn more about how Ariel Cohen is building the leading solution fast becoming the default for corporate travel.

Want to hear more? You can watch TripActions CMO Meagen Eisenberg on NBC Bay Area’s “The Influencer Effect” and read TripActions VP of Booking Experience and Supplier Strategy Danny Finkel’s interview with airline retailing source ATCPO.

Join us for TRAVERSE 19, a travel+tech festival hosted by TripActions, in San Francisco on October 2-3 to meet more of TripActions visionary leaders.

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