Skift Take

Travelers’ habits are changing, so corporate booking tools need to reflect that too. CWT’s relaunch is timely when people aspire to be kinder to the planet when they travel.

Corporate travel agency CWT has relaunched its mobile booking tool to include more sustainable modes of transport, as companies strive to be a little greener.

It is now starting to add car rental and train booking capabilities globally to its myCWT mobile and web channels. Before, travelers could book car and trains by contacting a CWT travel counselor via phone, email, or messaging, or by using third-party online booking tools, but the Minneapolis-based agency said the relaunch means they will now have more options to make and manage these reservations independently.

Customers also retain access to corporate negotiated rates and preferred suppliers, while loyalty program details from car rental companies are being integrated.

The enhancement follows its pledge to invest $100 million in its app as part of conditions tied to its $1.6 billion refinancing deal. It’s also part of a bid to offer a so-called “omni-channel experience,” where agencies seek to offer customers the same content and experience no matter how they engage with them.

More importantly, this latest global rollout helps its customers hit carbon emission savings goals.

To help travelers make more sustainable choices at the time of booking, the mobile app and web portal will have indicators highlighting electric and hybrid car options. Carbon emission estimates will be added at a later date.

Research from Trainline last year showed three in five business travelers were more likely to consider rail compared to before the pandemic, with one in five doing so to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The expansion of our train and rental car content will play an important role in supporting our customers’ sustainability objectives, which is now a top priority for most corporate travel programs,” said John Pelant, executive vice president and chief technology officer, in a statement.

Crossing the Final Mile

As well as the push to promote greener travel, cars and trains are essential in solving the “final mile” problem, where business travelers look to book that last leg of their journey to their meeting, workplace or home using the same app, rather than expensing separately.

“This is absolutely a critical milestone for us, to flatten out and get to full booking capability for the application,” said CWT chief customer officer Nick Vournakis, who has hinted at further developments.

“Everybody talks about trying to solve the last mile, because at some point it’s not just car and rail any more. You’re going to talk about scooters and buses, and being able to provide at least guidance on how to navigate that last mile is also really important for the travel management company community.”

To start with, CWT will leverage its partnership with Trainline Partner Solutions in the UK, before bringing on other markets in Europe to its myCWT mobile and web. The agency will also introduce point-of-booking carbon emission estimates for train travel later in the year.

The car and rail rollout also helps CWT reach more remote destinations — critical in growing business in markets like China. There is enormous scope to grow by targeting second cities in the destination, where many regions are inaccessible by flights, according to a recent business travel report published by Trip.com.

CWT launched its myCWT platform in China in January 2020, just before the pandemic.

While it has global intentions, there will be some regions where the booking functionality will be limited to some markets, Vournakis said.

Further ahead, Vournakis said CWT wants to allow customers to share trips across the platform in their community. The agency also plans to include booking capability for travel arrangers, who are “such an underserved community when it comes to corporate travel management tools,” he added.

Tags: business travel, car rental, china, climate change, corporate travel, cwt, mobile technology, rail, sustainability

Photo credit: CWT is now starting to add greater train booking capabilities globally to its myCWT mobile and web channels. Gerald Streiter / Flickr