Expect to see plenty more travel-infused partnerships over the coming months, because everyone wants a bite of a recovery that could smash records this year.
Future of Work
As organizations start to embrace distributed work and virtual meetings, the corporate travel and meetings sectors are preparing for change. Read Skift’s ongoing coverage of this shift in business travel behavior through the lens of both brands and consumers.
Car rental firm Hertz and WeWork have signed a partnership as part of a plan to take full advantage of the corporate travel recovery this summer, Skift has learned. Hertz will be offering WeWork members access to waived fees, discounts on rentals and the chance to earn free rental days faster.
Hertz, fresh out of bankruptcy, is now collaborating with the co-working giant, which wants to see more “flexible workers” walking through the doors of its 700 locations worldwide as companies tweak their policies.
The goal for WeWork is to drive ancillary revenues after posting a $504 million loss for the first quarter of this year, and secure more sign-up to its monthly All Access and pay-by-the-hour On Demand memberships.
It wants to capture a greater share of employees working for smaller businesses, on top of large enterprise clients which take out entire floors of its office buildings. In the partnership, Hertz Business Rewards members get a 50 percent reduction for its All Access membership for six months.
Of course, after those perks from Hertz, it will want them to commit for longer.
WeWork certainly has more places to fill as it moves to a “space-as-a-service” platform and away from expensive real estate contracts. WeWork is dependent on New York City and London business, but this latest deal with Hertz means it can push more traffic into other regions.
“With occupancy currently between 60-70 percent in gateway cities for flexible workspaces on average, compared to 75-85 percent pre-pandemic, there may be some opportunities for flexible workspaces to capture the workforce not fully back to the office through partnerships with travel companies,” noted Ben Tannenbaum, co-founder of data company Coworkintel.
WeWork also signed a partnership with real estate software firm Yardi in April this year, a few months after buying Common Desk, which expanded its network by an extra 23 sites across 13 cities in Texas and North Carolina.
It’s the latest in a series of travel-infused partnerships for WeWork, after tie-ups with Uber and American Airlines. They’re paying off, the company told Skift, as American Airlines and Uber are now its two top performing partnerships in the consumer category, while its “Uber All Access” partnership was one of its top five best performing All Access partnerships. Tie-ups with American Airlines in June and Uber in May were its highest grossing On Demand partnerships as well.
WeWork grew its All Access product by 267 percent in the first quarter of 2022, year-on-year, and its on-demand product by 551 percent.
“We’re excited to see business travel resume and partner with WeWork to offer their members a range of benefits through our Hertz Business Rewards program, and a fast and easy car rental experience no matter where in the world they choose to work,” said Laura Smith, Hertz executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer experience.
The new partnership also stands to bolster investor Certares’ growing network of travel businesses. Certares helped Hertz with a $6 billion reorganization plan alongside Knighthead and Apollo, and consortium of its investors part-owns American Express Global Business Travel, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday.
“The access Certares provides by way of American Express Global Business Travel and other venues is powerful in terms of the business we’re capable of driving,” Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr told Skift in April.
More than two years after Skift declared it was time to reboot the corporate travel agency business model, one of the top three has launched a new model to charge customers.
Corporate travel giant CWT on Tuesday launched a new subscription fee model for its customers, which it said will simplify its pricing and billing. It means an end to charging a fee for each booking made.
The booking fee proved to be a major weakness in the early days of the pandemic, as the sudden disappearance of travel hammered corporate travel agency finances. Not only did the cash stop flowing, staff at those agencies clocked up overtime hours to repatriate their clients’ employees and clawing back refunds from the airlines.
“Well done CWT,” said one consultant who pioneered one of the first switches away from the fee model back in August 2020. “I’m pleased to finally see that someone else has taken on the subscription fee idea as it’s a game changer,” said Bex Deadman, owner of 8 Phase consultancy and former managing director of UK agency Blue Cube Travel, which was one of the first agencies to break new ground in the summer of 2020.
Around the same, travel managers at Tesla and Microsoft also renewed calls for a shake-up.
“It took me two years to develop this at Blue Cube, and it’s taken another two years for another player to do the same. I’m not surprised, but I know clients have been asking for it since we launched it so I’m pleased to see this,” Deadman added.
Overall, the booking, or transaction, fee was developed to make life easier for the travel agency, but finance teams at the clients found it to be a major problem.
CWT’s new subscription fee is based on several criteria, including a company’s forecasted transaction volume and any value-added products and services they might use. The model also offers flexibility, as the fee can be revised if a customer needs to change the scope of products and services included in their subscription.
“Companies can now receive a single, recurring monthly invoice covering fees for all the products and services they procure globally from CWT, saving them time, whilst also simplifying their travel cost budgeting,” CWT said in a statement.
The decision came after CWT piloted subscription fee billing with a select group of clients over the past year. The feedback was “overwhelmingly positive” it said, providing clarity into how much they spent with the agency, as well as saving time for finance teams reconciling agency invoices.
10-Second Corporate Travel Catch-Up
Amadeus Extends Digitization Deal With UAE Agency
Travel management company ATS Travel has extended its partnership with Amadeus, as the United Arab Emirates headquartered agency looks to expand deeper into Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. ATS Travel will now begin using Amadeus Hotels, and its auto and and remote ticketing solutions. ATS Travel is the UAE representative of ATG. “The pandemic has led to accelerated demand for digital solutions across the customer journey, particularly for touchless experiences. Amadeus technology will allow ATS Travel to automate many of its functions,” said Ernesto Sanchez Beaumont, managing director at Amadeus Gulf.
Mastercard Signs Strategic Partnership With Musafir
Mastercard has partnered with online travel agency Musafir to help it digitize bookings made in the Middle East and North Africa. Musafir said its business platform helps 1,700 corporate customers report on carbon emissions tracking as well as spend analytics. According to the Mastercard Economics Institute, if flight booking trends continue at their current pace, an estimated 115 million more passengers in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa will fly in 2022 compared to last year.
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