Amex GBT Joins App Race

By | January 6, 2016

[UPDATE, May 9: Travelport revealed that its MTT division is the developer behind the American Express Global Business Travel app.]

American Express Global Business Travel late last year uploaded a new itinerary-based mobile app to the iTunes store. It’s working to release the app on other platforms this year.

GBT Mobile is available in English to U.S.-based travelers whose firms have enrolled. The company expects to add other countries and languages this year. The app includes upcoming and past itineraries booked through GBT agents or an associated booking tool, gate change notifications, flight status at a glance, touch-to-call and calendar synchronization. According to GBT, booking capability will be added “in the future.”

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Image: Thinkstock

A mobile component is fundamental to TMC bids for corporate business. Mobile has always been a key part of GBT’s tech strategy following its recapitalization. The new app is a first step.

Chief rivals BCD Travel and Carlson Wagonlit Travel already offered apps and continue to develop them. BCD recently added Portuguese and Spanish to the pre-existing English, French and German versions. A new mobile-web edition serves clients who do not download apps. BCD’s TripSource app as of November had synchronized 3 million trips and added 250,000 users since its release a year ago.

CWT last month released a government-certified version of its app, called CWTSato To Go, for military and public sector travelers. It’s available on Android, Blackberry and iOS. For its corporate CWT To Go app, the company added travel arranger functionality and better airport maps in collaboration with navigation firm Here. CWT executive vice president David Moran said the company’s goal is to create “the super app” for clients.

“The best forward view of the lifetime value of a customer is their engagement with mobile apps,” said Gerry Samuels, founder of Travelport subsidiary MTT, which provides BCD’s app. “We don’t think this is a nice-to-have. It’s absolutely critical for the strategy of TMCs.”

BCD Travel president and CEO John Snyder agrees. “This is probably one of the largest tech investments that we’re making at BCD,” he said last month during a Travelport investor conference.

The enterprise version of BCD’s app, which includes advanced messaging and engagement capabilities, will enroll as many as 30 clients by mid-2016, according to Snyder.

GBT officials said they would offer additional details about the firm’s mobile strategy upon a more formal launch later this year.

The Amex GBT Mobile app complements the travel management company’s apps for risk management and meetings. Older apps for Android and iOS facilitate click-to-call, SMS and email-based communications and location services for emergencies. A Meetings & Events app offers schedules, networking and gamification components on Android and iOS.

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