As Business Travel Rebounds, U.S. Airlines Roll Out New Corporate Travel Programs
Here's an overview of Delta Business, Southwest Business Assist, and United for Business Blueprint
As rebounding business travel faces rising airfares and increasing uncertainty, major airlines are revamping their tools for corporate travel decision-makers and travel management companies. Three carriers—Delta, Southwest and United—have announced initiatives to reposition their B2B toolboxes, with a greater focus on value-added benefits and customizable, self-service products.
Delta is rebranding its collection of business travel tools, products and services under one umbrella called Delta Business. The platform, offered to U.S.-based qualifying B2B customers, initially includes a self-service capability to issue digital Delta Sky Club passes and complimentary Medallion Status. An interactive Sustainability On-Demand dashboard allows customers to track CO2 emissions, progress and top travel markets based on their emissions footprint.
“All of these efforts are in response to customer feedback,” says Bob Somers, senior vice president for global sales. “It creates streamlined transparency into all the benefits our customers receive.” The Delta Business brand will roll out across the airline’s full range of B2B tools and offerings over the next several months.
The self-service travel portal Southwest Business Assist is a “transformational one-stop shop,” according to Dave Harvey, vice president of Southwest Business. The platform provides corporate travel buyers and travel management companies access to dashboards, reports and automated processing of contractual benefits. Features available in the first phase include increased real-time automation, travel funds management, expanded sustainability reporting and enhanced insight into contractual benefits, account performance and dashboards. Future releases will include such capabilities as duty of care reporting, the ability for travel managers to administer eligible flight credits, and additional automated functions.
United Airlines’ solution, United for Business Blueprint, is set to roll out later this year. According to Doreen Burse, senior vice president of worldwide sales, it represents a shift away from a one-size-fits-all contract model where discounted airfares are the only option. It will allow corporate customers to fully customize their business travel program contracts. Options include capabilities to reserve Economy Plus seating and Wi-Fi access, the possibility of higher loyalty status including United Corporate Preferred program for corporate customers, and incentives such as discounts on leisure travel for employees. In addition, United says it will launch a new website in late 2022 that will make it easier for companies who book business travel on united.com or the United app to enroll in and manage their travel programs, with new booking and payment options.
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