Skift Take

As in the planned American Express Global Business Travel Group merger with CWT, many marriages have in-law issues.

Corporate travel could get complicated: Expedia Group has a big stake in Amex Global Business Travel. is partners with CWT. What happens to those relationships if the merger between Amex GBT and CWT goes through?

Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott specifically noted CWT’s ties to for Business as an upside to the deal as it tries to reach more small businesses customers.

“As you know, SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) is an important strategic focus area for us,” Abbott said in a conference call Monday to explain the proposed merger. “And it also represents an important strategic focus for CWT, who have been focused on expanding further in this area including a relationship with for Business….”

Expedia Group, one of’s largest rivals, had a 16% stake in Amex GBT at the end of 2023. Expedia also has a 10-year lodging supply agreement with Amex GBT that gives its clients access to Expedia hotel inventory.

What to Make of the Mashup

Skift reached out to several analysts about the potential rivalry in hotel supply between Expedia and

“There’s room for only one winner at the top of the podium,” said Atmosphere Research Group’s Henry Harteveldt. “Unless there is something in the contracts with either Booking or Expedia that guarantees one of them the place as the surviving provider, I would expect that Amex GBT will have Expedia and Booking participate in a type of bake off where the two make their case for being retained. It would, of course, be easier for Amex GBT to retain Expedia, since they are the incumbent, but Amex GBT may view this as an opportunity for a fresh look — and, perhaps, the opportunity to negotiate more favorable economic terms.”

On the other hand, Richard Clarke, managing director at AB Bernstein, didn’t see the mashup as an issue.

“Why not have both?” Clarke said. “My understanding is there is no cost of connection (for businesses) and this way you can pick the cheapest price of a hotel from each. I believe has a similar relationship with both.”

Asked whether China’s Group indeed has a supply relationship with both Expedia and, a executive wouldn’t get into specifics but said, “We are a platform so we do multi-sourcing.”

Indeed, Amex GBT already has a supply relationship with, as it does with the three major global distribution systems, but they seem small when compared with the strategic relationship between Amex GBT and Expedia Group.

For its part, Expedia Group expects its supply partnership with Amex GBT to continue.

Asked about the implications of the Booking-CWT relationship and its own with Amex GBT, an Expedia Group statement said: “At Expedia Group, we power thousands of partners around the world with our best-in-class API technology and vast inventory. Our long-term agreement to provide lodging supply to Amex GBT was an important step forward in our ambition to power the entire travel ecosystem and help all of our partners achieve their goals. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them.”

Expedia’s Relationship with Amex GBT

Expedia Group’s equity stake and lodging supply agreement grew out of the sale of its Egencia corporate travel business to Amex GBT in late 2021. Expedia got a stake in Amex GBT and it secured a decade-long hotel-supply marketing agreement.

Amex GBT uses Egencia to handle small and medium-size enterprises — which is what for Business does for CWT.

More than two years after Expedia’s sale of Egencia to Amex GBT, Expedia still provides transition services to Amex GBT related to the deal.

In its fourth quarter and full-year 2023 financial results, Amex GBT reported that it notched a record of $2.2 billion in SME client wins last year.

It defines these small- and medium-size enterprises as those doing less than $30 million in total transaction value per year — and Amex GBT is looking for a lot more of these deals if it brings CWT into the fold.

With the potential addition of CWT, Amex GBT expects to increase its SME business by 35%, Abbott said during the merger call.


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Tags: amex, amex gbt, booking holdings,, for business, business travel, corporate travel, cwt, egencia, expedia, expedia group, m&a, mergers, mergers and acquisitions, small businesses

Photo credit: A business traveler in London. Source: Nicholas F/peopleimag/Adobe Nicholas F/ / Adobe

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