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Upside Business Travel will wind down operations before
officially closing next month, the company announced. Launched in 2016 by
Priceline founder Jay Walker, Upside initially focused on providing booking
services to the unmanaged corporate travel segment. More recently, the company
expanded its scope to include lightly managed clients via distribution
partnerships with travel management companies including TravelBank,
World Travel and Short's
But those partnerships weren't enough to stave off the
deleterious effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on Upside's business, according to
a post on the company's website announcing the impending closure.
"Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the
travel industry, Upside has decided to shut down its business after six
years," Upside said in the notice, which was posted on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, lingering uncertainty about when and if business travel
will return to pre-pandemic levels has made raising additional capital or
finding an alternative path too unlikely at this point."
Upside will no longer accept new bookings as of today but
will continue to service bookings for travel ending on or before Sept. 24.
Bookings for travel not completed by that date will be canceled and refunded and clients "will need to rebook
directly with the supplier or through another travel service," according
to Upside. Airline tickets that are non-refundable will be changed to tickets
on file, with any difference in value refunded, the post noted.
Upside also notified clients directly of the planned wind
down on Monday, according to the company.
Omega Go+, the private-label booking platform Upside
developed for Omega World, will no longer allow new bookings as of today, and
existing bookings for trips ending on or before Sept. 24 will be serviced directly
by Omega agents, Upside's post said.
Upside also noted that TravelBank is offering Upside
customers a 30 percent discount through Sept. 30. The companies in July 2020
announced a strategic partnership through which TravelBank offered its expense
management services to corporate travelers booking through Upside. The alliance
was slated to evolve over time to include new capabilities arising from the
integration of the two platforms.
In April 2019, Flight Centre Travel Group acquired
a 25 percent ownership stake in Upside, becoming its largest shareholder. The
Australia-based TMC at the time said it planned to use Upside's AI and
machine-learning based technology to bolster its small and midsize
enterprise-focused Corporate Traveler brand.
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