‘Sanctifly’​- How TEKenable helped make this Travel Tech app a reality

Here at TEKenable we spend a lot of time working with large enterprise customers.

Our software helps clients like Zurich Life and Musgrave run their day to day operations, while more than thirty organisations rely on our application managed services, including household names like Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Road Safety Authority.

However, we also enjoy working with smaller companies, especially start-up ventures.

Perhaps having been a start-up ourselves means we understand the challenges facing founders who try to bring their idea from dream to reality. We definitely know that any business journey requires determination, lots of flexibility and a willingness to explore new directions when circumstances require.

Recently we worked with an excellent start-up that fits this profile exactly, a company called Sanctifly.

It’s a great story which I’m sharing for two reasons, first because we think Sanctifly is the most exciting Travel Tech app to emerge from Ireland, but also because it’s a great example of how the team at TEKenable used technology to make Sanctifly possible.

First however, a quick look at Sanctifly and how it works. Watch the one minute video here.

Keep Fit while you fly

As the video explains, Sanctifly (www.sanctifly.club) is a membership club that gives access to fitness and relaxation facilities near airports. It’s designed for executives who find themselves waiting at airports, before, after or between flights.

Typically these travellers might want to use their free time in the gym, rather than head to the airport bar or restaurant, but until recently there was no easy way to do so.

Fortunately, Sanctifly founder Karl Llewellyn had the same problem when flying between Ireland and the United States and decided to fix it.

His solution launched this week at the SXSW conference in Texas (and appropriately for St Patrick’s week included a Guinness reception courtesy of Enterprise Ireland !)

Sanctifly is built around an app that allows members book fitness and leisure activities close to more than twenty five airports in Europe and North America.

Using Sanctifly is easy. First, you pre-register online. Once approved for membership you download the app to your phone. Then sign up to a membership package. Annual membership costs range from €49 (including one pass) up to €199 (including 8 passes). Each pass covers one gym/spa session. Members will also be able to buy additional passes through the app for €20 each.

Then when you’re ready to exercise, pick a location from the list of airports, choose your preferred fitness or leisure option and book a partner venue. Finally, on arrival pay with the app using a unique voucher code.

Turning Vision into Reality

When Karl Llewellyn started to develop Sanctifly, he identified the two big challenges preventing frequent flyers from exercising – information about available venues and access to these venues. He also knew the solution would require a mobile app.

But any successful mobile app has two elements – the ‘look and feel’ that the user experiences and the technical approach used to build it. Karl selected Dublin design house CI Studio (www.cistudio.ie) to develop the visual identity and screen templates for Sanctifly. At around the same time, he engaged with the TEKenable team to build the actual app. When our team first met Karl, we focused on understanding the Sanctifly concept and business context. Then we agreed the technical approach.

Harry Corbally, Solution Architect at TEKenable recalls:

“Our single most important decision was whether to build a ‘native’ or ‘hybrid’ app. We opted for hybrid because it allowed for faster time to market and more flexibility to accommodate future design changes.”

“Another key element of our solution was Xamarin, which allowed us write all the common code for the Android and iOS versions in C#.NET. This was important because we’re primarily a .NET software house. Xamarin let us make the most of our skill set.”

Last but not least was the decision to use the Azure platform. As Harry pointed out, “Early on, we decided to deploy the app in Microsoft Azure, given the excellent reliability and security of this platform”

With the architecture agreed, the team could focus on delivery. Working closely with Karl and CI Studio, TEKenable built the Sanctifly app over a three-month period.

We completed testing in November and added the app to the App Store and Google Play late last year.

Sanctifly - Understanding the ‘On Demand’ economy

After extensive testing, Sanctifly officially launched this week at SWSX in Austin, Texas. We’re pleased to hear that the intial reaction has been highly positive.

So where next for the company ? What does the future hold ? Perhaps the best way to look at Sanctifly is to view it as an ‘On Demand’ business within the ‘On Demand Economy’.

What’s an ‘On Demand’ business? It’s one that delivers its service instantly over a digital platform, and uses that platform to ensure the entire customer experience from order to payment is almost effortless.

Globally, one company symbolises the the ‘On Demand’ model. That company is Uber. Founded in California, Uber’s app connects drivers and potential passengers.

Because it’s now valued at over $60 billion after only seven years in business, armies of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs across the globe are trying to apply the Uber model to other industries – the so called ‘Uberisation’ of the economy.

So in there among the companies seeking to become the ‘Uber of Legal Services’, the ‘Uber of Private Jets’ ,even the ‘Uber of Laundry’, Sanctifly has a chance to become the ‘Uber for frequent flyer fitness’ .

And the the future looks promising. Traveller fitness is a huge potential market and Sanctifly has a strong offering. It’s also first out of the blocks in the race to dominate the space. Karl Llewellyn understands the opportunity and has also identified what’s needed to succeed.

From his perspective, the key is to offer excellent service, when and where the customer wants it. As he explained recently to RTE , “Tech is allowing companies on-board and retain customers based on their here and now value. It’s about recurring delight in CX.”

Here at TEKenable, we’ll be following the Sanctifly journey with great interest.

Finally, if you enjoyed this post and would like to join Sanctifly, email me directly at paul.richmond@tekenable.com. Karl Llewellyn has kindly given me a few 50% off discount codes I can share, first come first served !