After announcing a few in March, SAP Concur added several enhancements to the roadmap for its upgraded online booking tool, including the ability to change ticketed air trips in Sabre, scheduled for release during the quarter ending in September. Planned for the current quarter is the capability for reservation holds on EDIFACT-based Sabre bookings. The company targets this year’s fourth quarter to enable multi-city air searches, mixed GDS and non-GDS air content in a single trip, and AI-driven, policy-compliant flight suggestions. Group and non-employee functionality is slated for Q1 2025. Some features not yet available in the new interface remain accessible to users in the legacy view

BCD Travel SVP for product planning and development Yannis Karmis this month called the new Concur Travel user experience “really good.” According to JTB VP for global business travel Geert de Boo, “Concur has proven that they’re well-equipped to keep being a dominant force in the market.” However, both TMCs are also offering other OBTs to clients. At Corporate Travel Management, which supports the new Concur Travel, more than 70 percent of new clients are choosing the proprietary Lightning tool, according to CTM North America COO Anita Salvatore. 

Meanwhile, SAP announced this month that its generative AI copilot Joule would work with Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 to allow, for example, a worker to “book a flight using SAP Concur and Joule, and Joule can block their calendar in Microsoft Outlook.”

Suddenly, there are more female CEOs. It’s not so much at the big suppliers, although JetBlue named Joanna Geraghty CEO in January and Expedia Group promoted Ariane Gorin to the role in May. Corporate travel specialists have seen a burst of female CEOs taking the stage. Salvatore will take over for Kevin O’Malley as CTM’s CEO for North America at the end of August. Direct Travel named Christal Bemont CEO as part of its acquisition by Steve Singh and affiliates. Marne Martin took the CEO post at Emburse in January. Meanwhile, here’s a profile on Amex GBT CFO Karen Williams.

ESG-based hotel procurement platform Alō Index raised $1.9 million in funding. Former corporate travel managers launched the women-owned business in 2022 to help corporates build relationships with sustainability-focused lodging suppliers. Alō will use the funding to “advance its platform’s reporting and verification features and expedite its hotel onboarding process,” the company announced this month.

CTM isn’t likely to make acquisitions in the short term, according to Ord Minnett equities analyst John O’Shea. In a May 31 research note, he cited the company’s decision “to deploy the bulk” of its cash to buy back shares and pay dividends. “This suggests to us that investment in material organic or inorganic opportunities in the short term is highly unlikely,” according to O’Shea.

Startup business travel providers focused on the small and midmarket have a variety of pricing models, subsidized by commissions.

  • Expensify will charge users $15 per trip and $25 for agent assistance in its travel service backed by revenue-share partner Spotnana, according to an Expensify service representative and company documentation. Travelers who need help with exchanges, voids, cancelations or other modifications would only be charged the agent support fee once per trip. If they book a flight and later book a hotel, they would pay the $15 trip fee twice.
  • Payment and expense provider Ramp this month (re-)launched Ramp Travel — adding a Priceline partnership to a service already buttressed by Flight Centre’s Corporate Traveler and TravelPerk — and positioned it as a disruptor because it does not add “extra booking fees” like traditional corporate players. As this long and glowing review notes, Ramp takes in revenue on card interchange fees and “will also monetize the same way that online travel agencies do, through commissions.” The post didn’t touch on whether travelers get OTA-style service with that. According to Ramp’s pricing page, travel booking is included along with cards and expense at its lowest tier, which is free, and “priority support” is available to those paying $15 per user per month and enterprise clients.
  • At Brex, a Spotnana partner, a “one-time processing fee for each booked trip … can include bookings for flights, hotel, car rental and any other modes supported in the future,” according to its terms. “Any changes made within a trip (e.g., itinerary changes) shall not incur additional trip fees.” The Brex fee is negotiable, execs said last year.
  • Navan charges no fees for customers with fewer than 200 employees. “Navan is powered by travel providers’ commission fees — so you get access to a huge inventory without any cost to you,” according to its website.
  • TravelPerk, which announced the acquisition of AmTrav this week, has a variable trip fee schedule on top of a monthly subscription model.

Reaction: David Bishop and Marty Hoski commented on our May article about the effect of the Direct Travel acquisition on Spotnana’s prospects with other TMCs. Travel managers Mechelle Bush, Jeff Daily and Nicole del Sesto — plus Linda Cavalier — reacted to the American Airlines turnaround. Steve Luzzo quizzed Scott Gillespie about his recent survey and Susan Lichtenstein posted her two cents. Travel manager Terri Moreno attempted to make sure Airbnb knew she was still interested in their corporate program. Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

Go Figures

As of March, there were 17 TMCs in the American Express Global Business Travel partner network, according to the company’s annual report. Created in late 2021, the Partner Solutions program offers higher commissions, better hotel rates and more amenities to members than they can get on their own, one of them told us.

As of May, there were 124 active ARC Corporate Travel Department locations representing 107 companies, ARC said. The designation allows corporates to act as travel agencies and collect supplier commissions. Those using the model might hire agents or contract with a TMC for support services. Both numbers were slightly up from last year but down from 137 and 120, respectively, in mid-2020.

Reimbursable travel expenses. Top: Bag fees (89%), hotel Wi-Fi (75%). Bottom: Upgrades (6% flight, 1% hotel). BCD Travel 2024 survey.

Around The Web

“AI agents could start doing work such as booking a plane ticket and expensing it,” according to a June 7 CNBC article positing that AI agents were having a moment.

We’re not normally keen on linking to corporate blogs, but JTB does a pretty good job with theirs and here is a fine primer on “What You Need to Know about Implementing an Internal Carbon Fee.”

• AI changes the game for “zero-basedbudgeting, according to this opinion column in CFO Dive.

Hat-Tips And Heads-Ups

Hotel security expert Paul Moxness, whom we interviewed in 2018, posted his thoughts on LinkedIn about hotel brand standards and the franchise model. Some of our related coverage is here, here and here.

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