While this acquisition was surely already in the works, it will be interesting to see if former Carlson Wagonlit Travel head Doug Anderson's tenure at American Express GBT leads to even more industry consolidation.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The companies formed a partnership two years ago to develop travel and expense tools on a global scale. KDS’ Neo platform combines an online booking tool, which is the core technology piece of the acquisition, with a mobile travel app designed to resemble a consumer tool.
The terms of the sale of France-based KDS were not disclosed.
“We are bringing together an industry-leading online solution and travel management company to create the first seamless end-to-end experience centered on the modern business traveler,” said American Express GBT’s chief commercial and technology officer Philippe Chereque. “This will also enable us to provide GBT customers with a proprietary door-to-door online booking tool supported by our new technology infrastructure.”
When Skift spoke to Chereque earlier this year, he talked about American Express GBT’s focus on developing more robust technology tools and perhaps hinted at this investment.
“Before, if you made a booking on an online tool, and you called a consultant, they may not have had the correct information,” he told Skift in April. “We’re testing an online booking tool and I can tell you before the end of the year we will have our own online booking tool. Online tools are becoming necessary to provide services to a corporation. The level of bookings can change, but you need to make the booking online.”
Skift also spoke to American Express GBT’s vice president of digital traveler Evan Konwiser last month at the annual GBTA Convention in Denver, where he said the company is fully focused on improving its online booking tools instead of looking to more trendy technology fields like artificial intelligence.
The news follows last week’s even bigger news that American Express GBT has hired former Carlson Wagonlit Travel head Doug Anderson to serve as its chief executive.
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Photo credit: American Express Global Business Travel's acquisition of KDS will help fuel its focus on creating a more robust online booking platform. Here, a passenger checks in for her flight at Lambert St. Louis International Airport in St. Louis. Jeff Roberson / Associated Press