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Two corporate travel giants take opposing sides on booking freedom

@denschaal

Nov 14, 2012 5:17 pm

Skift Take

American Express Global Business Travel wants the industry to pivot in its own image.

— Dennis Schaal

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An American Express Global Business Travel executive called on the travel industry to pivot toward more quality in technology infrastructure, mobile and partnerships, but indicated that a move toward “open booking” is not on the company’s agenda.

Kim Goodman, president of American Express Global Business Travel, said she doesn’t have a forecast for how open booking, which means enabling employees to book their trips outside of their company-sanctioned corporate booking tools, will fare.

In practice, Goodman dismissed the trend, saying she’s never heard “a single customer” request tools “to help us facilitate people doing anything they want to do.”

Outside the booking tool

Travel and entertainment solutions provider Concur is mounting an “open booking” initiative, slated to be in place early in 2013, which it describes as “the idea that some parts of a booking will happen within the booking tool, and others outside it.”

“Given that we deliver the market leading booking tool, you may think that this is the antithesis of what we want to drive,” Concur states. “But we believe that sometimes you have to innovate in ways that change behavior — even within your own products. Our job is to solve client problems, not force them to ignore trends so they can stay with our products.”

Amex’s corporate customers request that the mothership provide better card data, improve mobile services, and facilitate company incentives to make employees more productive, Goodman says.

But  what about the idea of letting employees do whatever they want to do? “I have never had that request and I’ve never had that conversation,” Goodman said.

Road warriors have been demanding the ability to book around the Web for years, and it is a mischaracterization by American Express Global Business Travel to describe open booking in terms that conjure images of the Wild West.

Corporate policy shootout?

Without providing much detail for now, Concur states open booking “helps companies support their travelers’ current behavior, while providing the kinds of visibility and control they need to ensure their policies are being followed. And it helps companies support their duty of care obligations – knowing where their employees are on the globe at any point and being able to help them if an unplanned event arises.”

Despite Goodman’s “call to action” about needed changes in the business travel industry, it appears that American Express Business Travel’s idea of pivoting definitely has rigid retrictions.

 

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