Episode Topic: In this episode of TravelPreneur, we embark on an insightful journey with Roberto Da Re, the visionary founder and CEO of Travel Ledger. Join us as we explore his remarkable contributions to the travel technology industry, delve into the inception of Travel Ledger, and uncover how fintech and blockchain are revolutionizing travel payments and settlement processes.
Lessons You’ll Learn: Discover the power of fintech and blockchain in reshaping traditional travel payment and settlement methods. Gain insights into the challenges and triumphs of implementing innovative solutions in a dynamic industry. Learn from Roberto Da Re’s experience and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to make their mark in the travel sector.
About Our Guest: Meet Roberto Da Re, a true trailblazer in the travel industry with over 25 years of experience. As the visionary mastermind behind Dolphin Dynamics and the founder and CEO of Travel Ledger, Roberto brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. His passion for technology and automation has led him to explore the realms of fintech and blockchain, driving positive change in the travel trade.
Topics Covered: Embark on Roberto Da Re’s travel technology journey, evolving from Sabre to pioneering Dolphin Dynamics. Explore his fintech and blockchain entry, driven by enhancing travel payment efficiency. Plunge into Travel Ledger’s inception story, navigating challenges and opportunities. Witness Travel Ledger’s transformation, automating travel payments and learn from Jet2 Holidays’success. Comprehend Travel Ledger’s role in industry progress, fostering collaboration and efficiency. Unveil global horizons as Travel Ledger aims for cross-border expansion, empowering travel businesses worldwide.
Our Guest: Meet Roberto Da Re, Co-founder and CEO of Travel Ledger
Prepare to be captivated by the extraordinary journey of Roberto Da Re, a visionary force in the travel technology industry. With a trailblazing career spanning more than two decades, Roberto is not just a CEO; he’s a tech virtuoso who has orchestrated revolutionary changes in the travel industry.
From his early days at Sabre to his groundbreaking role in Dolphin Dynamics. His passion for technology’s untapped potential led him to explore the dynamic fusion of fintech and blockchain, propelling him toward the creation of Travel Ledger.
Roberto Da Re, the visionary behind the revolutionary Travel Ledger, navigated challenges and celebrated triumphs, birthing a platform that redefines travel industry norms. Roberto’s unwavering mindset challenged conventions, reflecting his disruptive spirit.
His brainchild, Travel Ledger, isn’t just a concept; it’s a tangible revolution reshaping travel technology and transactions. Roberto’s ingenious vision wove an intricate web of payment and settlement automation, propelling businesses toward operational excellence through standardized data exchange and automation.
Megha McSwain: Welcome to Travelpreneur, This is Megha McSwain, and today we have the pleasure of speaking with
Roberto Da Re: Make sure that what you’re doing is really solving a real-life problem. Because too often, and I’ve done it myself in the past as well, is you think that certain things are a problem and you say, I’m going to go in and fix it and I’m going to fix it for everybody else. But sometimes that might not be the case. Well, what I like or what I think is a problem might not be a problem for other people. So doing the research and really knowing the industry in and out.
Megha McSwain: Welcome to TravelPreneur, the weekly business show for the travel industry. I’m your host, Houston-based travel journalist Megha McSwain. Each episode, we’ll be exploring what it takes to thrive as a business owner in the travel industry. From conversations with leading travel business executives and industry-focused venture capitalists to exploring the innovations that are shaping the next generation of travel business, if it impacts the travel industry, we cover it here on TravelPreneur. Welcome to TravelPreneur. This is Megha McSwain. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Roberto Da Re, founder, and CEO of Travel Ledger. The visionary mastermind behind Dolphin Dynamics. A true trailblazer in the travel industry with over 25 years of experience in the travel trade. Hi, Roberto. Thanks for joining us today.
Roberto Da Re: Hi, Megha. Thank you. Thank you very much for inviting me today. Pleasure to be here.
Megha McSwain: So let’s get into your background a little bit. And what led you to take an interest in fintech and blockchain?
Roberto Da Re: Well, I’ve been in the travel technology space for most of my careers back in the days when I started with Sabre, and then when I started some of the other businesses. You mentioned offline dynamics in your introduction. One of the companies that I’ve worked with that I’ve founded that actually. So my background is always been into that kind of back-end automation and trying to find the best way to really use technology in order to deliver travel companies the benefits that they want. So having worked very much in the reservation and finance and back end starting to look at payments and fintech and how can we really improve all of the processes when it comes to set company, settling with each other was caught almost like a natural point of arrival for me because obviously fintech, it’s all about making the most of technology in a financial and payment and payment space and blockchain in itself is, let’s say in a slightly different way of doing things when it comes to to fintech. So that’s how I landed in that in that area. And that’s where the idea came about. Travel Ledger to really look at travel settlement in a slightly different way than it was traditionally looked at or not looked at for that matter. Because if you look at the industry travel settlement when it comes to the airline industry has been highly automated with IATSE or all the payment side of things. But for the rest of the industry, really there wasn’t that much. And that’s where we saw the opportunity to bring some of our solutions.
Megha McSwain: So tell me a little bit about Travel Ledger. When did you launch it?
Roberto Da Re: We launched well, the idea came just before Covid. Okay. We looking at this opportunity towards the end of 2018, early 2019. And then we were about to start when Covid exploded. So we were actually lucky from a certain perspective. We were not operational and we were able to pause the project and incubate it during the Covid period. And so then we launched towards the end of 2021 when we really saw that we knew at that point the industry was going to come back very quickly and it was quite good for us because we were able to ride that wave of comeback in 2022 and 2023.
Megha McSwain: You were pivoting while you were starting. You had that opportunity to make those changes before you were already well into the process. So how has how is it transforming the travel purchasing process? Can you explain that?
Roberto Da Re: Yeah. So of course when you look at the way the payments traditionally take place in the non-air side of things, while it said the air side of things is very streamlined with centralized ticketing and all of the payments, everything being very, very streamlined when it comes to B2B relationships between companies that buy and sell to each other travel products, everything is done a little bit old fashioned. There is a statement that is sent. There’s a payment that then follows the statement people need to reconcile in their back office systems or bookings that need to send an invoice to get a commission collected or a commission being paid. It’s actually although everybody exchanges PDFs and Excel files to reconcile that data, technically speaking, it’s still a very manual process. So what Travel Ledger does, Travel Ledger is providing the industry a standardized way of exchanging that financial data, and what our platform does is on the back of that financial data being accepted by the parties automatically moves the funds from Company A to Company B on the due date at the right time. So that provides automation to the parties. And the automation is driven really by the power of having of both companies being able to look at the same amount of data, at the same data.
Megha McSwain: So it sounds simple enough in theory, right? It sounds like. Okay. But were there challenges in building this sort of system? Absolutely sure there were.
Roberto Da Re: Yes, and the challenge is where that we wanted to do it in a way that will not change the internal processes of the companies that are using our platform. Okay. Because having been in it for many, many years, I know that whenever you go to a company and you say, Oh, now you need to change your systems or change some of the processes or whatever, that’s always an upheaval. So the platform was designed so that internally the various companies that do business with each other don’t have to change any of the processes. It’s only the way that they exchange data that is standardized so that they use the same methodology with all of their business partners. And as you know, in travel, every travel company has loads of partners you might be. Buying from hundreds of some companies, thousands of travel suppliers. So having all of that data in a single format, rather than having to deal with consolidating it, manually, adjusting data, and all of that, it’s a really big change for the companies that are using our products.
Megha McSwain: This episode is brought to you by Travel Payments dot com travel businesses have unique needs when it comes to credit card processing. From large average ticket sizes and tolerance for higher chargeback ratios to simple integrations with the most popular shopping cart systems. The travel industry specialists at Travel Payments dot com have you covered. Unfortunately, many of the most popular credit card processors initially accept travel businesses, but without warning, freeze their merchant accounts and the thousands of dollars in them. Because these service providers don’t understand or support the unique needs of travel industry business. Don’t get stuck with one of the big guys who will freeze you out without a moment’s notice. Instead, work with the travel industry specialist who will support your business every step of the way. Visit travelpayments.com to get a free quote today. Is there any real-life example that you can give us of a success story that Travel Ledger has helped or something that you can share with us?
Roberto Da Re: Absolutely, yeah. Primarily at the moment, we’re operating in the UK, in the European market. We’re expanding internationally in the latter part of this year and we’ll be soon available in the US as well. And just to give you one example, Jet2 Holidays is the largest independent tour operator in the UK and they work pretty much with every travel company in the UK to manage all of their B2B transaction payment collection, settlement, and everything. They have two people working in a way part-time on that task. So for the largest independent tour operator in the UK to have such a small team that manage all of their account receivables is really. That’s impressive.
Megha McSwain: Yes, definitely. Well, that kind of leads me to my next question is, How do you see Travel Ledger contributing to the overall advancement of the travel industry? I mean, this is one huge company in the UK really shifting. I mean, look at how much things have changed in the last five and ten years. So how do you see it changing things in the near future?
Roberto Da Re: We’ve been really embraced by the industry, which is really going to show the fact that people see the value in what we’re doing and the value is in working together. In fact, I always say the biggest asset of Travel Ledger is actually the network of companies. We have over 2000 companies that use our product today. And so our contribution is that we allow companies to exchange data much more easily that way. The contribution is that we just make it easier for people to interact with their business partners, especially in this phase where a lot of the companies are trying to kind of rebuild after what happened over the last two, three years. They’re dealing, fortunately, with large volumes coming in. The industry is really rebounding, but that also poses operational challenges. So from our perspective, we’re happy that we’re helping companies operationally streamline their relationship with their partners so that they can really focus on their energies on the sales side and making sure they continue to grow profitably.
Megha McSwain: And you mentioned that you will be growing your client base as well, expanding into the US and other countries as well.
Roberto Da Re: Yes, and that’s pretty much the nature of the travel industry. The travel industry is international by nature. For example, we have all the major cruise companies already using our platform in the UK and in Europe, and obviously, they all sell in the US market as well, although obviously, we’re in a different model, but it’s actually really on the back of our suppliers, it’s our suppliers, the suppliers that participate in the platform that they’re telling us, Look, this works very well, let’s just use it in other markets as well. And again, that increases the value of our proposition, grows the network, and the bigger the network, the more people want to participate, right?
Megha McSwain: Definitely. So you’re obviously a trailblazer. I mean, this is really forward-thinking stuff. And what advice would you give for new business owners? Young Travelpreneurs, looking to innovate and make a mark on the travel industry as you are.
Roberto Da Re: So my recommendation would probably be make sure that what you’re doing is really solving a real-life problem. Because too often, and I’ve done it myself in the past as well, is, you think that certain things are a problem and you say, I’m going to go in and fix it and I’m going to fix it for everybody else. But sometimes that might not be the case. Well, what I like or what I think is a problem might not be a problem for other people. So doing the research and really knowing the industry in and out, my experience and I’ve had the luck of being able to work with many other entrepreneurs over the years is I see the most successful people are the ones that actually start businesses in a sector that they really know and understand, right? I’ve seen many people actually go from working from somebody else, getting their own experience, and then branching off on their own. Once they really know the industry and know the ins and outs and they can see the opportunity and they go for it.
Megha McSwain: Right? Because there’s the good, bad, and ugly and you don’t know unless you’re in it and working through it and experiencing it.
Roberto Da Re: Exactly too often is. I’ve seen people coming into the industry thinking, Oh, travel. Yes, I travel. I do this. I understand it because I like to do something. Everybody…
Megha McSwain: Everybody likes it.
Roberto Da Re: And then they start a business in that space and it doesn’t always go according to plan. So yes, like in any industry really, you need to have a deep knowledge of your market, do your research, and fine-tune your plan. And as you mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to pivot. Sometimes things change under your feet. And so I think.
Megha McSwain: That was a lesson learned for all businesses, right, That you can be going along thinking everything’s fine. It’s almost like expect the unexpected as great or as weird or as bad as it could be. But well, this has been really helpful information. Thank you for sharing your incredible journey and the innovative strides you’ve taken and Travel Ledger has taken and still making in the travel industry. If our listeners want to get in touch with you or learn more about Travel Ledger, tell us how they can find you online and contact you.
Roberto Da Re: Well, very easy. You just go to a website, travelagent.org. There you can find all of the different contexts and some information about who we are and what we do and our network because obviously that the participants, the companies that are already on the platform, you will find them listed there. And I’ll give you a good idea of all the many companies that work with us.
Megha McSwain: Great. Well, thank you for joining us on TravelPreneur. Roberto, we would love to catch up with you again in the future and we appreciate you coming on the show.
Roberto Da Re: Absolutely. Thank you very much, Megha, Very nice talking to you today. Thank you.
Megha McSwain: You’ve been listening to TravelPreneur by travelpayments.com. Make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast listening platform so you never miss a new episode, and we’ll see you again soon on TravelPreneur.