Skift Take

For an airline that not so long ago eased away from business travel, two new partnerships suggest it's thinking twice about that decision.

German airline Lufthansa has added two new partnerships to capitalize on business travel’s surprisingly rapid recovery.

The airline launched Lufthansa Global Spaces on Wednesday to allow passengers to book desks, offices and conference rooms. The platform integrates into its Miles & More loyalty program so members can earn additional points.

And with its eye firmly on the seamless journey, Lufthansa Group launched another solution called BusinessToGo, in partnership with corporate travel agency startup TripActions, also on Wednesday. This platform has been designed for small and medium businesses, and includes access to accommodation, rail, and car rental content, as well as flights.

In the spring of last year, Lufthansa made moves to target more leisure travelers. In April 2021 it took a number of steps to adapt to fewer lucrative business travelers flying, and retired long-haul jets with large business and first class cabins.

What a difference a year makes, and these latest two partnerships suggest it’s thinking twice about that move.

However, the new workspace platform, which was developed by Lufthansa Innovation Hub, Lufthansa Group’s digital innovation unit, and reservation system Hubli will initially only be available for three months as it tests the waters. And just five cities — Berlin, Munich, Barcelona, Singapore and New York — will be available at first.

It’s also not the first airline to try its hand and combining flights with workspaces. In October 2020, as the pandemic bedded in, United Airlines cut a deal with meeting and event space aggregator Peerspace to offer packages for businesses wanting to gather employees outside of offices.

United didn’t comment on how that was going to Skift, but in March Peerspace said corporate demand for meeting spaces had surged since the lows of 2020, and it was projecting 300 percent growth in bookings compared to the same period in 2020, and 1,300 percent growth compared to the second quarter in 2020. It was also working on a new “Peerspace for Business” solution. “United will likely play a role in this, as will several other big name companies,” said a spokesperson.

But like United, Lufthansa has noted the quickly changing nature of post-Covid working trends.

“Traditional business travel has declined significantly since the Covid pandemic began. At the same time, we’ve seen more and more how the categories of work and vacation are becoming blurred,” said Christine Wang, managing director of Lufthansa Innovation Hub. “Travelers today are often away for longer periods of time and sometimes work remotely. We believe that this trend will only continue.”

If successful, a global rollout is planned. Hubli, which also powers American Express Global Business Travel’s Workspaces platform, has an overall network of 185,000 spaces worldwide.

Small Means Big Business

With its new TripActions platform, Lufthansa Group will provide access to so-called New Distribution Capability offers, which can be exclusive or sometimes incur extra charges when booked on the global distribution systems. As well as flights it will provide accommodation, rail, and car rental content, and wants to capture more businesses don’t have a “managed” company travel program.

Like the workspace project, this new all-in-one business travel platform, which integrates into the Lufthansa Group PartnerPlusBenefit program, is taking small steps as for now it’s only available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.

BusinessToGo platform will offer program standards like policy and profile management, emissions reporting and centralised billing, but will have two tiers, Essentials and Premium, with the latter including a fee for those business that want “enhanced onboarding” and support in configuring the platform.

It’s the first launch of a “completely new booking and servicing platform” in more than a decade, according to Tamur Goudarzi Pour, senior vice president of channel management at Lufthansa Group Network Airlines, and chief commercial officer at Swiss.

The platform will be rolled out successively in additional markets.

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Tags: american express global business travel, berlin, business travel, corporate travel, loyalty, lufthansa, meetings and events, ndc, remote work, travel management, travel management companies, tripactions

Photo credit: Lufthansa has new partnerships with Hubli and TripActions. TJDarmstadt / Wikimedia

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