American Express Corporate Travel has launched a new travel-management enterprise targeted specifically towards the $16 billion small- and mid-sized business-travel market. Among its features is a loyalty program offering double Membership Rewards points for booking travel with an AMEX card; a “Webfare” guarantee, which promises that AMEX will match or beat any airfare available online; and the additional feature of automatic ticket refunds.
According to research done by AMEX, the most pressing travel concerns facing small- and mid-sized businesses include the ability to book reservations quickly and achieve exclusive savings; access to low-cost carriers, and low airfares in general; and the opportunity to earn loyalty points for booking travel online.
The finance giant hopes the new program will address all three of those concerns. Specifically, the double-points offer is designed to encourage individual traveler compliance with the travel-management program, by providing a personalized incentive to stick with the overall scheme.
AMEX has sweetened the pot by providing a host of other incentives and benefits as well, including negotiated rates (AMEX says its total trip costs, including air, hotel and rental car rates, are 7-11 percent lower on average than Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity); program analysis and identification of new savings opportunities; low-cost transaction fees, including $5 for online transactions; discounted airfares, room rates and rental car rates; and 24-hour customer service.
To be eligible to earn double points for airline tickets, members must be enrolled in the Membership Rewards program at the time of purchase, and must charge the purchase to an eligible, enrolled AMEX card. If used in conjunction with other offers, the double-points offer is limited to one extra point for each standard award point. Bonus points are to be awarded 10 to 12 weeks after the charges appear on the member’s monthly billing statement.
To use the Webfare guarantee, the client has to provide flight information that confirms a lower Web airfare was available for the same route within one hour of the departure time. The Web airfare and the AMEX fare must both be quoted on the same day, and the Web airfare does not quality if it is a “soft dollar ticket,” or from a consolidator or auction Web site.