With the recent relaunch of the safetravelRX app, it seemed like a good time to get to know the founders. In this week’s blog, we talk with Ron DiLeo, travel industry veteran and co-founder of safetravelRX.
Q. How did you start working in the travel industry?
R. I quit college after my junior year, not sure what I wanted to do professionally. I love to travel so I searched for travel industry jobs. The job that stuck was travel agency work. I learned the trade largely through my employers and by participating in education conferences. My winding travel agency journey began with me filing brochures and delivering tickets for a large agency in Philadelphia, Rosenbluth Travel. I stayed with Rosenbluth in various roles for 25 years before American Express acquired our company and I was the Chief Operating Officer of Rosenbluth International. American Express later sent me to London to manage their travel business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). I started the In the Black Group consulting firm after leaving American Express five years later. Our group works with travel agencies, travel management companies, airlines, hotels, car rental companies and travel industry associations serving various roles in sales, marketing, operations, supplier relations and general business performance. Launching the safetravelRX app was just a continuation of my journey in travel.
Q. Why did you think it was a good idea to develop this type of app?
R. My partner, Dr. Steve Diamond, was telling me about some very interesting medical emergency response patents he had developed. I suggested that we take his patents and combine them with travel security and risk management functionality and create an app for the SME (small and mid-size enterprises) business travel segment. Most of the Fortune 500 companies already had very comprehensive travel security and risk management programs to address their corporate Duty of Care responsibilities but smaller companies lacked an affordable solution. Our app was intended to fill that gap in the marketplace.
Q. What do you think makes this app unique?
R. There are several features that makes our app unique. First, the emergency call button works everywhere in the world with one touch of the button. The phone identifies the country where the user is located and when they hit the emergency button the app knows the correct number to dial to solicit an emergency responder. Second, you can input any country into the “Trips” section of the app and our system gathers security and risk information about that country and emails it to the user on a real-time basis. Security and risk information can include news about terrorism, weather events, events in any given city that may snarl traffic, Covid updates and protocols, and much more. The app can track up to three destinations at a time, providing push notifications to the user. Third, the app is backed with a 24/7 help desk that can provide services such as prescription replacement, information about local hospitals and doctors, travel arrangements and pretty much anything else a traveler may need while traveling.
Then there are general features that can be stored in the app to for the sake of user convenience. These features include links to telemedicine networks, photo storage of important documents like insurance cards, emergency contact details, general medical facts like prescriptions, ailments, etc. The app also securely stores general information about virtually every country in the world. For example, current immigration requirements, currency details, weather patterns, cultural facts, and items of interest. Except for being a tool for booking your trip, safetravelRX is basically a one-stop-shop for anything travel.
Q. Did you ever have a personal situation when you were traveling where this app would have helped you?
R. Yes. As you can imagine leading American Express’s EMEA travel business, which encompassed 23 countries, required a great deal of travel and an understanding about the various places I was visiting for both business and pleasure. When I was the Executive Director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) I traveled to 70 or so cities every year to host conferences or to deliver lectures. Again, it required lots of local knowledge and advanced understanding of local cultures. I was at the mercy of local government and consular websites when researching each destination and none of those websites were terribly current. Our general destination information is always current thanks to Crisis24, our Duty of Care content provider. I was traveling more than 250 days each year and found myself needing to renew prescriptions while on the road. I also found myself in need of a doctor more than a few times. What I wouldn’t have done to have access to our 24/7 Help Desk!
Q. What type of consumers would benefit from your app?
It genuinely has relevance across the entire spectrum. If I were the parent of a study abroad student, I would make sure they had the app. People traveling with medical conditions most assuredly should have the app. The trend toward people traveling to exotic destinations continues to grow so they’re prime targets for the app as well. Seniors who may need certain medications or have health conditions would benefit. People in general that travel are served well by our app. And even if you’re not traveling all the time, the app is very useful. I’ve used the stored photos of my medical insurance cards in doctor’s offices when I’ve forgotten to bring the physical cards.
Q. Do you see if being helpful for both business and leisure travelers?
R. Absolutely. Whether you are a business of one or part of any size company, the app is not only beneficial to the user, but it also supports Duty of Care requirements. If a person is traveling for business and something happens to them, their company is responsible, and liable, for that person’s well-being which is how Duty of Care is defined. The liability is greatly diminished if the company can show how they provided their travelers with Duty of Care solutions like ours. And, of course, leisure travelers are also part of the app’s sweet spot.
Q. Any final words?
R. My partner, Dr. Steve Diamond and I really believe that our app can ensure that people have safe travel experiences and productive trips. It’s so simple to download and use that it can bring real peace of mind and take worry off your itinerary.
To download the safetravelrx app on the IOS or Android app store, click here.
To read more safetravelrx blogs, click here.