Booking a business trip typically involves researching an endless number of options before coming to a decision. Hyper was created to make corporate travel more efficient by tapping into the latest technology trend: virtual assistants. The company launches today with a portable travel assistant you can communicate with by text.
Started by Peter Zakin and Minqi Jiang, Hyper emerged out of an experience the two had while they were working at Venmo and Google, respectively. Both became frustrated by the way travel was arranged through a brick and mortar travel agency that took its time figuring out people’s itineraries. They thought about how easily things could be solved just by using messaging, similar to what Facebook M, Operator, and others are already doing.
But while Hyper shares similarities with some of the better-known virtual assistants out there, none of those is solely fixated on travel. Hyper works with travel agencies to find you the right flight, hotel, and car reservations. The company has teamed up with travel technology provider Amadeus to source its information. It also has relationships with host agencies and can help find the lowest-cost airlines, hotel chains, and other hospitality providers.
Using either its iOS app, email, or SMS, you can ask Hyper to look up travel arrangements just by typing in your request. The company says that it is “fast, personal, and familiar. It’s asynchronous so you’ll never have to wait on hold.” If you’re looking to book a trip to New York City, for example, just send Hyper your travel dates and destination. From there, a human being will respond quickly with results that not only match your travel schedule, but your preferences as well (e.g. do you prefer window or aisle seat? Single occupancy hotels? Type of car rental?).
Like Operator or Facebook M, Hyper uses human assistants to carry out your requests. It’s much different from the early versions of Siri, which was originally aimed at providing travel assistance. The company has a team of call agents in the United States, as well as an internationally based call center to handle additional service requests:
“When you send a travel request to Hyper, our system routes the request to the most relevant expert within a network of experienced travel agents, assisted by our proprietary back-office technology. Our travel agents then apply their deep domain expertise to respond with only what they believe to be the best options for your trip.”
The service doesn’t place a surcharge on your bookings, but its free plan is limited. The basic service lets you plan and book your trip, receive notifications of changes, and access Hyper through its app, email, and SMS. For $20 per month, you’ll receive all of the basic services, but with additional features, such as enhanced customer service options and the ability to change or cancel your reservation. Users can also have Hyper recommend tours, provide in-destination insights, suggest restaurants, and even book show tickets.
Hyper also offers a business plan that runs $25 per user per month; it offers everything previously mentioned but also includes advanced reporting, group bookings, expense and duty of care integrations, and custom travel policies.
To date, the company has raised $410,000 from investors like HLVP, Greylock Partners, and others. Hyper states that it has already helped “hundreds of travelers” over the past few months and is working with major companies that spend “millions of dollars” annually on travel.
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