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HOTELS & TOURISM | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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All-in-one assistant TravelerBuddy adds pre-travel check and expense management feature

It helps travelers know about country-specific requirements related to passport validity, visa, vaccination and customs.

When executives from a Singapore consulting firm finish their business trip, they have to contend with a pile of paperwork and expense reports that takes up precious hours from other productive work. This led the founders of digital travel assistant startup TravelerBuddy to build a unified platform that minimizes time, effort and opportunity wasted from juggling between separate apps.

"After each trip the consultants spend hours every month to manage their T&E expenses using a mix of paper-based and Excel templates. The company wanted to have an easy-to-use, itinerary and expense management application that saves time and doesn’t cost thousands of dollars," recounted Juerg Kaufmann, CEO of TravelerBuddy, of one of its clients.

Kaufmann and his team then presented the digital travel assistant from TravelerBuddy and the features addressed the consulting firm's concerns.

The platform offered the consultants a way to automatically generate travel itineraries that can be synchronized and shared with colleagues and clients, receive real-time flight alerts, and automatically process and store forwarded booking confirmations and invoices for all trips.

It also has an integrated expense tool that allowed for a consultant user to just snap photos of additional receipts and invoices and add them to the trip for future viewing and printing in one single attachment, making reimbursement filing easier.

Adding to its robust line-up of features, TravelerBuddy added a Pre-Travel Check feature on its website to help travelers know about country-specific requirements related to passport validity, visa, vaccination and customs.

And for small and medium-sized enterprises that want a financial motivator to switch, it has launched a special TravelerBuddy calculator that can compute for potential time and money savings from using the platform.

A unifying platform
The Singapore-based Kaufmann said that he and co-founder Philippe Graeppi - who between them have more than a million travel miles and decades of corporate experience in banking, insurance and venture capital - created the startup based on their own difficulties whilst traveling and the insight that there is no one platform that can serve their complex needs.

"We love to travel – both for leisure and for business. While traveling 'millions' of miles, we occasionally came across frustrating obstacles that need a quick fix to make us happy globetrotters. Providing a solution to such common, unpleasant situations is the driving force to develop a client-centric application," said Kaufmann.

"As varied as current travel technologies may be, we realised there is not a single unifying platform that sophisticatedly addresses the difficulties encountered by business and frequent travelers," he added.

Benefits and features
Kaufmann listed TravelerBuddy's features based on three main categories of benefits. The first is time savings, which translates to features that let users search their mailbox for flights and hotel tickets, gathers all flight check-in information and links so they are conveniently on hand, manages invoices for expense reimbursements, synchronises travel details with the user's agenda, and creates and shares the trip itinerary with other contacts.

The second is fuller and paperless accessibility to travel documents, booking confirmations, trip itinerary, trip details and other important location and contact information on trip destinations, country-specific entry requirements, and travel warnings.

Kaufmann said the third and final key benefit area is in getting real-time alerts for flight delays, gate changes, boarding times, and risk events such as terror situations and typhoons. Bringing it all together, he envisions TravelerBuddy as raising the efficiency bar in the travel management experience so users do not have to waste so much time and energy.

"We are firm believers that digitalisation and innovation with the right human touch will increase the traveler's experience and satisfaction, will save time and facilitate paperless, hassle-free travels," said Kaufmann.
 

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