Orbitz Worldwide last week said it would unify Orbitz for Business and Travelport for Business under the Orbitz for Business brand. As a result, customers of each gradually would get the features of both, officials said. The move is part of a broader set of changes underway at Orbitz for Business, a travel agency which began as a domestic, online service and, like peer companies Travelocity Business and Expedia Corporate Travel, is expanding its travel management offerings and geographic reach.
Orbitz for Business also now is pursuing corporate clients that need onsite agents; attempting to help smaller-volume customers with hotel sourcing; leveraging partnerships on the meetings management front; winning new collegiate accounts (including the nine-campus University of California system) and looking to add leisure travel components for some business clients.
The rebranding of Orbitz Worldwide Corporate Solutions to the Orbitz for Business moniker means "our group name is the same name as our service and the same name as our product," said Orbitz for Business COO and general manager Dean Sivley, adding that the Orbitz brand has enjoyed higher brand recognition and adoption rates.
Initially, the move is simply a name change for Travelport for Business, "but we are in the process of consolidating the tools into one," Sivley said, noting that the company will work to combine the "code bases" of the two products during the first quarter of 2008. Ultimately, Orbitz for Business customers would get "complex policy" options now available through Travelport for Business, while Travelport for Business customers would benefit from such Orbitz features as a traveler locator service, traveler alerts and other "mobile access" components.
Meanwhile, Orbitz for Business expects to soon close deals with two clients requesting onsite agent support. "Those deals were ones we would not have played for before" Orbitz a few months ago publicized plans to use onsite agents to serve certain clients, Sivley said. "There will be a portion of our deals--maybe somewhere between 5 and 10 percent--where that will be an important part of our offering."
Sivley noted that those clients using or considering onsite agents generally require only a few, complementing "all the benefits of an online tool and call center capabilities." The days of dozens of onsite agents servicing a given company, for the most part, are over, he said.
For those accounts that request onsites, Orbitz for Business uses "traditional agency pricing ... cost-plus," Sivley explained. "It is not as economical as having a call center for a client, but they understand that."
Orbitz for Business is providing other types of travel management services through partnerships. It is working with Consulting Strategies to offer clients hotel sourcing support, whereby Orbitz feeds data to a Consulting Strategies request for proposals tool, Sivley said. "With hotel rates rising, we are starting to see more mid-size clients looking for help," he explained. "We have done a few of those and I see it as a growing trend for us."
In July, Orbitz and StarCite announced plansto integrate by the first quarter the former's booking tools with the latter's attendee management functionality. That same month, Orbitz and meeting planning consultancy The Win Group announced a partnership to provide Orbitz clients with fulfillment of meeting planning requests.
Meanwhile, TRX Inc. said Orbitz Worldwide signed a "global" deal to use the Correx product "to manage the full volume of Orbitz for Business' reservation processing." TRX said the agreement follows an earlier Orbitz decision to use TRX's Traveltrax for data consolidation and reporting.
In terms of analytics, Orbitz now is starting to use information from its data warehouse to determine why users leave the booking tool and seek support from a call center. Sivley said such analysis, "which we are starting now to incorporate into quarterly business reviews," helps clients understand trends within their divisions and helps Orbitz determine if configurations for its site and booking tool need adjustment.
Another trend on which Orbitz is acting addresses corporate customer demand to extend services to leisure travel. "We are hearing more from clients in terms of a bundling of consumer side [services]," Sivley said. "We are trying it a few accounts." That means linking client intranets to the Orbitz consumer site, carrying over traveler profiles and creating promotions to encourage business travelers to use Orbitz for their leisure travel needs.
Outside the United States, Orbitz for Business International is a new, "full-service" provider launching initially in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. It follows recent international expansion at peer companies Expedia Corporate Travel and Travelocity Business.
Sivley last year toldManagement.travelthat "it would take a long time to build out all the fulfillment capabilities" needed to meet the international demands of "a number" of interested clients, but "strategic relationships" with local partners would allow for new service announcements in 2007. Though too late to retain McDonald's Corp.'s business, an expanded international presence could help Orbitz for Business serve existing multinational clients and pursue "deals that we have had to walk from," Sivley said.
The company also is testing in another 13 markets a corporate booking system based on the nascent Galileo Traversa booking tool. Content is provided through Travelport's Galileo global distribution system.