MEET THE START-UP: PHILIPPA JOHNS FROM YURIQA

CONTRIBUTOR: Emma Castle & Philippa Johns

MEET THE START-UP: PHILIPPA JOHNS FROM YURIQA

What is yuriQa?

We help to make Travel Agencies more profitable by uncovering hidden savings and revenue opportunities in their travel data. We take their live booking data as it’s happening, overlay other relevant data sources, and produce insights that they can then use to improve business performance, increase revenues, optimise supplier contracts, manage staff performance and right size their business. We have a version for leisure and retail agencies as well as for corporate agencies or TMCs.

Tell us a little bit about yourself …

I’ve been in the travel industry for more than 20 years and have worked in the airline, Travel Management Company and management consulting sectors. I founded The Business Travel Consulting Group in 2003 to work directly with corporates to help them with strategic sourcing, outsourced program management and industry consulting. Throughout those engagements there was a lot of frustration around data – namely how to get accurate data and to get it in a timely way so that we could leverage the data to generate insights. The challenge was that most of the time was spent cleaning and normalising the data and far less time was spent on the actual analysis and insights that could be acted on immediately.

Where did the idea come from?

yuriQa (which is a play on the word ‘eureka!’) was born out of that frustration. We wanted to change people’s experience with data insights so that more time could be spent acting on the insights and far less on generating them. We built our platform from the ground up, leveraging technology to do the data preparation and then engraining our travel management experience into algorithms which could surface the right insights to the people that need them, in some cases before they knew they needed them. In a way, we’re a ‘virtual assistant’ for Travel Managers and Travel Agency Managers, using the platform to trawl the data as it’s happening 24/7/365 for relevant and actionable information because they don’t have the time or resources to do that.

Where do you see it going in the next year?

Next, we’re investing in AI for an upgraded corporate version of the yuriQa Virtual Travel Manager, to make it easier and faster to get the insights into the right people’s hands; a ‘Siri’-like function on top of the travel data. If we can surface the right information to decision makers faster, the actions that could or should be taken can happen almost immediately, and travel managers are freed up to use their time consulting to their business stakeholders, negotiating better deals, reducing travel risk and travel stress and overall, being more effective in their roles. The AI development can also be used by Travel Agencies, OTA’s, travel suppliers etc who need fast access to actionable knowledge about their business, but also the market.

While dashboards will always have their place, solutions like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and IBM Watson have redefined the way that information is delivered and the ease with which people can access information. We’re doing the same in Travel Management, using machine learning and AI to generate relevant information, and leveraging some of these solutions so that when a Travel Manager or Travel Agency Manager needs to know something, they can tap an App on their phone or iPad, or just ask. That’s not 5 years away however, that will be in the market in 2019.

If someone walked up to you and offered to help, what would you ask for?

Time. There’s never enough of it.

If people want to learn more, how can they get in touch?

They can go to www.yuriqa.com or call us on 02 9560 6625.

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