American Express Corporate Travel has unveiled its new travel management offering targeted at the US$16 billion-per-year SME travel market, including a loyalty programme that offers double Membership Rewards points for those booking travel with their American Express card.
Among its member benefits, the programme features a Webfare Guarantee that promises to match or beat any airfare available online, also providing automatic ticket refunds for unused tickets, and a maximum US$5 transaction fee.
The double Membership Rewards loyalty programme aspect was built in to help address one of the big problems facing SMEs: individual traveller compliance with a travel management programme. In providing a personal incentive linked to the corporate travel management programme, and coupling it with the programme's other benefits, American Express expects the programme not only to benefit the individual traveller but also to promote overall cost saving for the company.
Research conducted by American Express revealed that the top travel concerns for SMEs currently include:
- Having the ability to make reservations quickly and get good savings;
- Having access to low-cost carriers, and lower airfares in general;
- Earning loyalty points for booking travel online.
Other features of the new American Express SME travel programme include negotiated rates (which the company claims are 7%-11% lower on average than other leading travel providers), access to low cost airlines, programme analysis and the identification of new savings opportunities, online and offline booking options, discounts on accommodation and car rentals, and 24-hour customer service.
"We've given SMEs the three things they need most to maximise a travel management programme. By offering the loyalty programme, we're helping to drive travel programme compliance. With automatic refunds, they avoid the hassle of refunding unused tickets. And the webfare guarantee ensures that our airfares will never be beaten," said Pam Arway, executive vice president and general manager for American Express Corporate Travel, North America.
How it works
To be eligible to earn double points for airline tickets, members must be enrolled in the Membership Rewards programme at the time of purchase, and must charge the purchase to an eligible, enrolled American Express 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 ten to twelve 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 will confirm that a lower web airfare was available for the same route within one hour of the departure times on the itinerary of the lowest airfare offered by American Express. The web airfare and the American Express fare must both be quoted on the same day, and the web airfare may does not quality if it is a 'soft dollar ticket', or from a consolidator or auction web site.