Major technology investment deliveries in 2019 include recommendation engine, next-gen mobile experience, new ready-made benchmarking, new proprietary hotel re-shopping and enhanced air re-shopping.
American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), the world’s leading business partner for managed travel, announces technology enhancements and new products for clients across its travel management ecosystem for 2019. These are the latest developments in GBT’s ongoing technology investment program, which launched in 2015 with the aim of providing best-in-class traveler experiences while supporting the increasingly complex requirements of travel managers and their organizations.
David Thompson, GBT’s Chief Information Technology Officer, said: “The modern business traveler wants access to all content, they want it personalized and available in every channel. They want to know that someone has their back, and they don’t want to be lumbered with cumbersome processes before, during or post-trip. Happy travelers are efficient, productive and generate growth. Our technology investment program is designed to meet all these expectations.”
Benchmarking: Peer Travel Insights
With traveler information captured across all travel booking channels globally, GBT has one of the most robust and secure data sets in business travel. Its big data and analytics infrastructure, a repository that houses more than six years of data, drives GBT’s reporting and analytics tools. GBT is launching a new benchmarking service, Peer Travel Insights (PTI), that uses advanced analytic capabilities to measure travel program performance and competitiveness. Put simply, it helps travel managers understand if they are doing a good job. It will also, for the first time, measure intangible traveler well-being metrics.
- PTI automatically identifies companies from across industries that can be classified as peers. Historically, a company only benchmarked itself against industry competitors. By grouping companies based on carefully selected similarities, PTI will provide richer results.
- PTI can anonymously rank individual companies within their peer group from best in class.
- PTI’s traveler well-being dashboard assesses the impact business travel has on employees and benchmarks results across peer companies. There are positive KPIs (like the use of nonstop flights and access to business class seats on international trips) and negative KPIs (such as the percentage of red-eye flights taken and time travelers spend away from home). PTI calculates a total traveler well-being score. Depending on the result, a firm may introduce policy changes to make business travel easier or more appealing.
The launch of PTI bolsters GBT’s suite of data products, which already includes the award-winning data visualization tool, Premier Insights. PTI is available to all GBT clients.
Travel Recommendation Engine
GBT has started to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to its big data and analytics infrastructure to anticipate traveler behavior. Today, this recommendation engine surfaces in online booking. It analyzes a traveler’s previous behavior, the patterns of similar travelers, and company policy to predict where the traveler wants to book. GBT is also developing the ability to recommend trip content over new platforms, such as Siri or Cortana, to support the travel counselor experience.
The GBT-owned KDS Neo online booking tool (OBT) delivers a single shopping interface that combines the traditional approach to booking with a more modern method, using a smart search engine that is logical and ‘thinks’ like a person. Neo’s smart search and booking engine can deliver a complete itinerary in seconds, combining air/rail, accommodations and ground transport in an intuitive, interactive, web and mobile interface.
With business benefits such as built-in policy compliance, pre-trip approval and visibility into total trip cost, Neo’s user experience helps drive adoption while supporting travel managers’ requirements for visibility, spend control and duty of care. Available across all channels, Neo provides flexible booking to suit different types of user. The Neo recommendation engine is available now to GBT customers in EMEA and will launch in May for clients in North America.
Although Neo delivers door-to-door trip recommendations, many travelers prefer to book a flight first, then return later to pick accommodation. This led to the creation of Trip Recommender, GBT’s hotel attachment solution. Trip Recommender identifies travelers who have booked a flight without a hotel and sends an email with suggestions. The click-to-book tool is built on the recommendation engine technology and suggests a hotel based on policy, traveler history, and similar traveler patterns.
The Mobile Experience
GBT clients will benefit this year from new enhanced features on the Amex GBT Mobile app. Booking capabilities are currently driven by Neo, though booking will soon be available to more customers using other OBTs. Travelers now have access to a global, real-time messaging platform that enables live conversations with travel counselors on the app or via the web. Other features include click-to-call and face or fingerprint login with compatible iOS and Android devices.
GBT’s Neo clients can book hotel, air, rail and ground transportation on the Amex GBT Mobile app. The Trip Recommender tool, available to all users, offers personalized suggestions based on traveler preferences and previous trip data, which can be reviewed and booked with a single tap.
The GBT mobile experience also includes disruption management tools. Proactive Traveler Care (PTC) sends push notifications with important information directly to travelers caught up in disruption. In emergency situations, Expert Care users can communicate via two-way mobile messaging, send their geolocation and quickly access emergency response numbers.
A range of further mobile app enhancements are scheduled to launch in 2019, including client-based hotel reviews, embedded corporate messaging and a flight boarding countdown timer.
Dynamic pricing means travelers and travel managers cannot be sure that hotel rooms and air fares are being booked at the best prices, making it difficult for buyers to prove they are delivering savings to their organizations. To support clients in attaining better value with their air and hotel spend, GBT has launched a new proprietary hotel re-shopping solution, while enhancing and expanding its air fare re-shopping solution.
GBT’s Hotel Re-shop Expert (HRE) provides automatic re-shopping logic that identifies rate drops to find and book a cheaper hotel room. The product maps rate descriptions to amenities and ensures recommended rates are like-for-like in terms of the original bed and room type that were chosen.
HRE is available to agents within the GBT Global Trip Record (GTR), further aligning with individual traveler profile preferences and choice history for booking hotel. HRE is available to US customers on the Apollo global distribution system (GDS), on the Sabre GDS in the US, UK and Canada, and will be available in key proprietary GBT countries including Australia, Mexico, France and Germany by the end of 2019.
GBT’s Air Re-shop Expert (ARE) continues to maximize client savings with automated dynamic fare monitoring and rebooking. The enhanced ARE is available in the US on Sabre and Apollo and will be rolled out in other countries and on other technology platforms throughout 2019.
Evan Konwiser, GBT’s Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing, said: “TMCs now need their own technology that helps companies manage the entire travel ecosystem. Some may opt for more proprietary tools and others may look for third parties. Either way, the TMC must bind the experiences together or else a key part of the TMC value proposition falls down.”
Core Technology Platform
The GBT travel management ecosystem, which provides travel managers and travelers with a single point of contact for all elements of their travel program, is underpinned by GBT’s proprietary Core Technology Platform and big data and analytics infrastructure.
GBT has focused on developing solutions that help clients grow their businesses and care for their travelers, while applying strict risk and compliance standards. This drove GBT to build the Core Technology Platform (CTP) to optimize clients’ traveler data, to inform innovative products and improve traveler care. The platform is built on three key components:
- Global Trip Record (GTR): A single source of accurate, reliable, and real-time trip data across all channels and activities (where the traveler has been and where they are going next)
- Connect Profile (CP): A single master traveler profile, created and managed by the traveler, that contains core reference information and traveler preferences (what the traveler likes)
- Supply Management Platform (SMP): A platform to launch new richer inventory faster and more consistently across all channels, supporting multiple connections to GDS/CRS, non-GDS content aggregators, online travel agencies and direct connections, and accessible via API by any supported booking tool (giving the traveler access to all content)
The above components are all integrated with GBT’s vast data repository:
- Big data & analytics platform (data lake): A storehouse of all travel management information that feeds GBT’s reporting and analytics capabilities.
Thompson added: “Having the proprietary Core Technology Platform allows us and our clients to collectively control our own destinies. As new technologies emerge, and as we consider how to incorporate better artificial intelligence, biometric solutions and blockchain, we already have the core to plug into.”
The American Express Global Business Travel Mobile App is available to GBT clients and travelers now in both the App Store and Google Play store. To learn more about all the new features, click here or visit amexgbt.com.