BCD Travel, CWT Testing Messaging Interfaces
After running trials with about 20 clients, CWT will offer all clients a new messaging service this year. Travelers can make bookings and changes, get itineraries and chat with agents through the myCWT app and web portal, with more interfaces coming. BCD Travel also has been working on a chat platform with a handful of US-based clients. Travelers use the TripSource mobile app and website. BCD plans to enable additional entry points, like Facebook Messenger.

American Express Global Business Travel last year partnered with Apple Business Chat to give travelers from midmarket accounts access to agents via iPhone and iPad Messages apps.

Among the many considerations for the newer means of communication are service level agreements. "Average handling time is about double what we see with voice, so one way to make that more efficient is simultaneous conversations and also robotics and AI," said BCD EVP David Coppens during an interview with The Company Dime. "There are general service industry changes where traditional contact center metrics – X percent of calls within Y seconds – are becoming less relevant." Managing Travel Programs [121] (Staci)

Managing Travel Programs

Proposed Bill Would Exempt Trusted Travelers from Real ID
From Oct. 1, US travelers can't board commercial aircraft without Real ID-complaint identification (or valid passports). Most states now issue drivers licenses that comply, but the Department of Homeland Security in February said two-thirds of all current drivers licenses don't. New legislation introduced in the House of Representatives would ease the transition by requiring the Transportation Security Administration by Oct. 1 to implement "alternative checkpoint screening procedures" for travelers arriving without acceptable identification. The procedure could include credential authentication technology, queries to federal or state databases and/or secondary screenings.

The Trusted Traveler Real ID Relief Act of 2020 also would, until April 2022, exempt those "who provide to TSA the Known Traveler Number" from their TSA PreCheck or U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry enrollment.

That may not help some New Yorkers. The Department of Homeland Security disallowed New York state residents from joining or renewing memberships in trusted traveler programs, including Global Entry (but, as of press time, not TSA PreCheck). DHS cited New York's decision to not share driver’s license information with federal immigration and customs agencies. New York has filed suit in US District court, objecting to the DHS move.

Amex GBT Fires Volley in TMC Hotel Content Arms Race
Travel management companies, online booking tools and GDSs have stepped up efforts in recent years to amass huge inventories of hotel properties and rates. Part of the goal is to reduce the number of corporate travelers who book outside those channels, long a challenge for travel managers.

American Express Global Business Travel recently introduced the Rest Assured program. It includes exclusive rates at "thousands" of properties, some with added amenities, as part of a total portfolio of 2 million properties. A rate guarantee leverages GBT's hotel reshopping tool. Another 6 million "non-hotel" listings include homes and apartments brought in from Booking.com, Expedia and WWStay. Travelers can access these options through GBT's mobile app. Rest Assured also wraps in a recommendation engine using algorithms and past booking data, and a virtual payment option.

More Corporate Travel Players Sharpen Sustainability Focus

Expedia's Egencia made available to all clients a sustainability consulting service. It includes carbon emissions reporting, assistance in incorporating sustainability considerations in travel policies and, "for more mature travel programs, an in-depth performance analysis benchmarked against the industry and competitors."

The Tripkicks platform that incentivizes employees for cost-conscious and policy-compliant travel choices now allows users to redeem rewards to support corporate sustainability initiatives. The company said it worked with experts to "calculate average total trip emissions based on the typical trips that we see in our data." It also lets users offset their personal household emissions based on average estimates.

Delta, meanwhile, pledged $1 billion over the next 10 years to become the world's first carbon-neutral airline. Its efforts include fleet renewal with more fuel efficient aircraft and accelerated development of sustainable aviation fuels. The airline will allocate some of the pledged money to a "dedicated fund" aiming to achieve carbon neutrality.

TMCs Take Aim at Jet Lag
Travel and Transport now sends well-being recommendations to travelers via pre-trip communications. Information sent by e-mail or through the TMC's mobile app includes details on fitness facilities at or near destination hotels, nearby parks and local healthy restaurant options. There's also advice on combating jet lag while crossing time zones.

Meanwhile, CWT has announced a partnership with Timeshifter, provider of an app that tailors plans for overcoming jet lag. It's available to the TMC's clients around the world.

Timeshifter also partners with United Airlines and has its own corporate program. Clients get volume discounts, usage reports and access to a cost calculator that determines jet lag's impact on productivity. The company is working to import itineraries from client TMCs.

As part of a new program to send well-being recommendations to travelers via pre-trip communications, Travel and Transport also is offering advice on combating jet lag while crossing time zones. Information sent by e-mail or through the TMC's mobile app includes details on fitness facilities at or near destination hotels, nearby parks and local healthy restaurant options.