TouristMobile is definitely a great place to work. This provider of a great, highly innovative door-to-door all-in-one travel app has repeatedly been awarded the title of Tyrol’s best employer in the SME category. The company’s 14 employees are on average well under 30 and the open-plan office feels straight out of Silicon Valley. You can immediately perceive the extraordinary dedication of Marina Hegemann – the charming leader of this group – to her employees.
Marina is also committed to a new culture for business travel. She tirelessly emphasizes that travel agencies and travel managers must take care of travelers’ needs and wishes much more than ever before.
In the following interview, Marina gives us a great look at her company and her vision:
Marina, your excitement for this all-in-one travel app is palpable. What makes your app so special?
Our app is really there for you during each moment of your trip. It knows every detail, every component of your business trip and assists you no matter where you are and no matter if you are traveling on foot, or by car, plane, train or public transportation.
That means you have also integrated transfers, taxis and walkways seamlessly into the flow of information?
Exactly. And not only that: the tool is completely personalized and also learns which providers you prefer; for example, Uber, citymapper, Google Maps, myTaxi or whatever else.
When you hit the road, the app knows where you need to go next by means of your “digital travel map”, i.e. your entries in the app, and integrates them automatically in your Uber app, for example. Of course, it also shows you the best way to walk to your destination. Our customers find this not only convenient, but also very, very cool.
Speaking of apps – what is the name of this tool exactly?
Our app is called TravelMobile. That works wonderfully because we are completely focused on the “mobile” aspect in both our development and in our thinking. The name is not very well-known, however, because the app is used as a white label solution for almost all customers and is branded accordingly. You can find and download a preview version of Travel Mobile in app stores to get an idea.
Does that mean that every customer uses their own version of the app?
Yes, you could say that. Our customers are predominantly large companies and TMCs and they also need deep integration into their own systems – from single sign-ins to bidirectional interfaces for booking data.
To be able to implement something like this quickly, you have to be very agile. Umbrella and Tourist Mobile are very similar in this regard. This flexibility is absolutely an asset of both companies.
To what extent does the use of TravelMobile help a travel agency?
Even if they have not all grasped it, travel agencies need door-to-door information from their customers in order to be able to offer relevant things such as disruption services and duty of care in the future. They have to know where a traveler is, what they are doing, and what third parties they are using in order to provide them with fast and effective support and information.
Our app is actually a virtual travel agency employee, an indispensable part of a TMC’s service.
That means you are confident that travel agencies will continue to play an important role in travel management in the future?
They will if they work intensely with the wishes and needs of their customers and adapt their services accordingly. If they don’t, things could quickly go in the opposite direction. Disruption happens quickly these days – it happens when established providers do not listen to their customers. Amazon, Uber, Netflix, Spotify and Airbnb have only seized opportunities that opened up because the “old” industries completely forgot to take care of their customers.
But I also see that more and more decision-makers in TMCs and also travel managers are dealing with the needs of travelers very carefully. And that of course also helps TouristMobile. We happily assist with our know-how and tools such as mobile moments workshops.
What strategic issues are you currently working on? Where is TouristMobile headed?
We are expanding into totally new markets – for example the USA– with a number of customers. It’s really exciting and a lot of fun. On the other hand, we are also closely focusing on traveler engagement for all of our customers’ travelers. This also happens via email or text message and therefore also includes “non app” users.
Marina Hegemann in private: where did you grow up and where do you consider home?
I grew up in Detmold in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and then I went to Bielefeld to study math and business. It is a really nice area, but also not especially exciting. That’s why I moved to Munich right after I finished and then moved to Tyrol. At the moment I live in Starnberg, Germany and commute to Innsbruck.
No matter if it is Munich, Starnberg or Tyrol: my heart is in the south – I am really happy there.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
My 12-year-old daughter and I are two peas in a pod and do a lot together. For example, we love having people over. One fall specialty is the so-called “Törggelen”. It is originally from South Tyrol and is a feast with new wine and great foods such as barley soup, speck, cheese, roasted chestnuts and mandarins or sweet fried dough.
That sounds fantastic, thank you!