American Express GBT Gears Up For Growth

It’s all in the point of view, reports executive editor, Bob Mowat in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.

Consider Colin Temple, vice-president & general manager of American Express Global Business Travel – Canada. The first thing that he’ll tell you these days is that he considers the company he runs here as a 100-year-old start up. Now that’s definitely an interesting take on the situation, but if you let him explain a little bit further – and why wouldn’t you – his point becomes much clearer.

“Even though we’ve been in business for 100 years as a travel management company,” Temple told Canadian Travel Press in a recent interview, “it almost feels like a start-up because of a joint venture we entered into last year, which has essentially raised $900 million in capital that we’re investing back into the business.”

That deal, which was completed on July 1, 2014, saw American Express retain 50% ownership of GBT, while an investor group, led by Certares, acquired a 50% ownership stake in the joint venture.

Quite an infusion of capital, so not surprisingly, Temple is excited, not just about 2015, but the company’s prospects on into the future.

“We’re really looking to focus on how we continue to evolve [with] our clients. [We put a] huge emphasis on customer care. We’re a very, very customer-centric organization. But we’re also looking to invest the $900 million to evolve our servicing capabilities – so a big focus on technology. Really thinking through [and being] forward looking as we’re trying to recognize the evolving needs of our clients as their business changes. You know, how we’re evolving our business to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of our travellers and the travel program managers.”
Proprietary solution
In fact in mid-March, the company rolled out a proprietary solution called Future Travel Credit (FTC) Management in Canada and it’s already being used by GBT’s clients here.

Temple explained: “Based on what we were hearing from a lot of our clients, we know that there is a lot of money that clients leave on the table with regards to unused tickets. So these are typically tickets that are basically non-refundable and sit as a credit until the traveller decides that they’re actually going to use them. And with many companies, with infrequent travellers, those tickets essentially expire and we know that for some clients this could be literally hundreds of thousands of dollars annually that they’re actually losing.”

In response, American Express Global Business Travel Canada developed FTC which, Temple said “essentially dynamically manages on behalf of our client all of their unused tickets and applies them to future reservations.”

He continued: “So if you were due to travel last week and had to cancel for some reason and I made a reservation today – assuming we both worked for the same company – your unused ticket credit will actually be applied to my reservation, essentially saving the company money.”

And there’s clearly more to come.
Said Temple: “I think there’s going to be some things that we will be announcing, undoubtedly, in the balance of the year, in terms of new products and capabilities.”

Which brings things back to the joint venture and infusion of capital and what American Express GBT has been doing with it.

“We’re actually investing in a lot of our tools and our infrastructure capabilities so that we can continue to meet the clients needs,” Temple told Canadian Travel Press during an interview.

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press by clicking here.