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American Express Business Travel, BCD Travel and Carlson Wagonlit Travel are assessing how best to enable their corporate customers to contribute to the Massivegood projectand are beginning to coordinate with providers of corporate self-booking tools. Officially launched on 4 March in the United States, the cause aims to collect up to $1 billion in donations for fighting HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis, and generally improving children's health in the developing world. Opportunities to donate "micro-contributions" of $2 (or €2 or £2, once the program expands to other countries) when booking airline flights, hotel stays or car rentals initially are available to "leisure travelers," according to the Millennium Foundation, which is spearheading the initiative. It will be expanded in June to include corporate travelers.
Though Millennium Foundation intends to present contribution options to all travelers in all booking channels (online and offline), BCD Travel and CWT for now are focusing on online corporate bookings only. Citing agent productivity concerns, they will assess donations for agent-assisted bookings at a later date, according to officials.
"A lot will depend on the client reaction," said BCD Travel vice president of special projects Jennifer Townsend Walley. "Their buy-in will be critical for the traditional booking process, because it will add some minutes to the transaction. So we decided to start just online and evaluate the traditional transaction down the road."
"As you can imagine, collecting an individual's personal payment information in addition to making their actual travel arrangements would be time consuming for our travel counselors," according to a CWT spokeswoman.
However, it is "important to dispel the notion that Massivegood will be a time-consuming action," according to Amadeus, which is Millennium Foundation's technology partner. "Once [agents] ask for the donation and click on the confirmation, everything else happens automatically in a fast, efficient and simple way. Although the initiative is managed by the agent, the transaction takes place directly between the consumer and the Millennium Foundation, so there is no financial responsibility, legal responsibility or invoicing to be undertaken by the agency or organization facilitating the transaction."
American Express has not yet decided where to present donation options to corporate clients. A spokeswoman said that a number of possibilities in addition to online bookings are under consideration, including donations through offline agent-assisted transactions (which would require new scripts and training for agents, she said) and external links from booking tools that would allow travelers to donate with personal credit cards.
Online Booking Tools
Among booking tool providers, only Amadeus by press time provided details on development. Donation capabilities in the company's e-Travel platform "will be implemented in the June/July timeframe," according to Jolene Iredale, a product manager heading up the company's Massivegood effort. She said that implementation will require "a series of different passenger name record remarks that will have business rules behind them," dictated by how corporations choose to participate. Those options could include a fixed amount per month; a fixed or calculated amount for each PNR, potentially based on a percentage of the ticket price; and company matching of employee donations.
At Sabre, director of corporate responsibility Barbra Anderson said that participation by the company's GetThere corporate booking tool still is under consideration. "We have to make sure it is something that there is interest in and would be applicable to the workflow," she said.
Regardless of the booking tool used, individual corporate clients would have the option of presenting or excluding donation opportunities, according to Amex, BCD and CWT officials. "Travelers would have the ability to say, 'Never ask me this question again,' " added BCD's Walley.
The CWT spokeswoman added that the company "anticipates that in most cases, travelers will be personally responsible to pay for Massivegood micro-contributions they choose to make."
Should the clients opt to "contribute at a corporate level," according to Amadeus, "the Millennium Foundation's dedicated accounting system will receive either from the TMC or the corporation itself the number of PNRs created per month. An invoice will be created. Then the payment service provider will process the payment from the company bank account to the Millennium Foundation's acquiring bank account."
Functionality for Massivegood donations is scheduled for availability in Austria, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in the coming months, and Canada next year, according to sources.
According to Millennium Foundation, others that pledged support include Accor Hotels, the American Society of Travel Agents, Delta Air Lines, call center partner Mondial Assistance, payment service provide the Royal Bank of Scotland/Bibit, Sabre Holdings (including both the Sabre global distribution system and Travelocity), Travelport, leisure travel agency Voyageurs du Monde and the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The Millennium Foundation
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