Americans spent more than $1 trillion on business and leisure travel last year. With over one-third of that travel booked using mobile devices, significant technology is required to power the purchase and eventually get people to their destination.
That’s where fast-growing, Bloomington, Ind.-based Cornerstone Information Systems lives and thrives. The leading technology and services provider for the travel industry processes more than $25 billion in travel spend annually, helping over 600 customers worldwide to proactively lower the costs of travel management through optimization. In 2017, Cornerstone processed 23 million unique travel bookings, 78 percent of which were booked through automation, and the company achieved it all with a 99.99 percent digital uptime.
“Bloomington, Ind., isn’t an obvious location as a key tech hub for the travel industry,” said Mat Orrego, co-founder and CEO of Cornerstone. “People tend to think of major cities like Dallas where Sabre is; Madrid, Spain, where Amadeus is; or London, England, where Travelport is; but we’ve been here in this unique college town for nearly 26 years pushing the envelope on interfacing with legacy systems, automating workflows, and doing innovative things with data that influence the entire industry.”
Orrego grew up in Bloomington — his father was a musician and composer who taught at the university — and he earned his undergraduate degree from the IU Kelley School of Business. The Cornerstone team’s ties to the community, while already significant, intensified over the past two years as they demolished the original Cornerstone building and watched their new company headquarters take shape on W. 6th Street. They expect to move in to the new offices in the New Year.
Cornerstone currently employs 90 people, about half of which work at headquarters and half telecommute from home or office locations around the globe. Fifteen new hires joined the company in the past 18 months and up to another 40 new hires are planned before 2021.
“As mobile continues to grow and new tech makes enhanced experiences possible, we see more and more opportunity not just on the operational side of travel with the airlines and hotels, etc. — and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of opportunity on the operations side — but actually automating the services provided to travelers has been a big growth area for us for a while now, too,” Orrego said.
Most online and mobile consumers are familiar with cart abandonment offers and other highly effective remarketing tools that account for up to half of some marketers digital marketing budgets today. The airlines and many travel booking agencies operate off of legacy systems that simply don’t have the ability to provide these services and they don’t have the wherewithal to build the integrations necessary to create them. By incorporating artificial intelligence and integrating everything through custom APIs, Cornerstone is taking advantage of the evolving landscape of consumer expectations and offering a much richer set of potential experiences than the legacy travel systems could provide on their own.
“We want to be in the middle of the orchestration of these systems, in the middle of the enablement and transactional fulfillment — we want to wire-up the back end that needs to be brought to bear to bring customer experiences to life.”
In order to achieve this goal of owning the orchestration of the systems that run the travel industry, Cornerstone has taken on an undisclosed amount of private capital that is fueling the up to 40 new hires over two years and product development. The company currently has openings for software developers, application specialists and business process consultants.
Cornerstone has been a profitable company since its second year of business in 1993, and Orrego and his partners have privately bootstrapped the company for its entire history until now, taking on a capital infusion. “We’re excited about this next big round of growth because we’re blazing new trails by interfacing travel with other commerce platforms,” Orrego said. “Imagine you’re reading a book about medieval britain on your Kindle and the next display ad or special offer you see is a vacation package including a bus tour of medieval English churches and castles. That’s the next frontier.”