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American Express to open Interactive Fulfillment Centres in Europe with Asia Pacific planned for 2003

With more companies looking to cut costs in the current economic environment, and the anticipated increase in corporations moving to online travel booking…

With more companies looking to cut costs in the current economic environment, and the anticipated increase in corporations moving to online travel booking and fulfillment, American Express Global Corporate Services announced recently that it is opening two dedicated interactive travel fulfillment centers in Europe.

One center will be located in Stockholm, Sweden, and will service American Express customers located in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. The other will be located at Sophia Antipolis near Nice, France, and will service customers located in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy. The Stockholm center has been operational since late August and the Sophia Antipolis center is due to open at the end of the year. Additionally, the company`s flagship e-fulfillment center in Miami, Florida, is being expanded to support clients based in the UK, Ireland, Canada and Latin America.

Applying best practices to the European Markets

The expansion of facilities is due to a marked increase in demand for online ticketing among corporations. In the United States, American Express recorded a 500% increase in reservations made via corporate online booking tools in 2001 as compared to the previous year. These interactive travel bookings now represent 12% of all American Express corporate travel reservations, and the volume is expected to grow to 19% of bookings by the end of 2003. This tremendous increase in reservations is greatly attributed to effective programs to drive usage among travelers and by corporations` desire to get substantial savings through lower average ticket prices and more efficient transaction processing.

Leveraging the success of online travel products and e-fulfillment services in the United States, American Express has formed a fully dedicated interactive team in Europe to apply these proven technology solutions, usage strategies and processing efficiencies to the European marketplace.

Francois Gautier, Vice President and General Manager, Europe, American Express Global Interactive Travel Group, commented, In the current economic downturn more corporations are looking to streamline their costs and as a result we have a real opportunity to help them. In the U.S., we have already had phenomenal success in showing customers the advantage of booking and fulfilling their travel online. So far we have worked with over 1,400 U.S. customers and those who are using this fully end-to-end platform are saving 50% to 70% on traditional transaction fees.

He continued, Choosing an online booking system doesn`t save companies money – using it does. On-site consulting is the answer for companies that need an in-depth customized assistance in implementing and growing online booking systems. Many firms don`t have the internal resources to give their new interactive travel management programs the proper focus it requires and want to work with a partner that has proven results, such as American Express, to achieve this.

American Express has already made significant progress with helping large companies in Europe manage their costs with interactive travel products. Last year Xerox Limited appointed American Express as its European Corporate Travel business provider. Brian Knight, Corporate Travel Manager, Xerox, commented, American Express won our business because they were able to demonstrate a proven ability to drive down costs and offer a choice of reservation services that meet our requirements for both traditional and online travel bookings.

Rich Miller, Vice President and General Manager, Global Interactive Travel Group, commented, Our offering will ensure that small and mid-size European companies can now achieve savings via online booking products that were only available to large corporations. I am excited about our new approach to this market and am convinced that we can really help European companies to better manage their costs in the current economic environment We hope to be able to announce our plans for a center for the Japan and Asia Pacific region shortly.

Beyond Booking

Of course, automation and technology are not truly effective without the proper support from highly skilled staff members. As pioneers in the field of interactive travel, American Express provides unparalleled service and support to their online travel customers – from implementation to adoption and usage and beyond. Interactive travel professionals work closely with these companies and draw upon a unique set of tools, strategies and programs designed to help encourage usage and drive the maximum number of reservations online.

American Express` consultative approach to interactive travel and compatibility with all major online booking engines and GDS systems also ensures that clients have one point of contact for their online travel program. American Express also provides clients with peace of mind knowing that they are reliable and has the staying power necessary to ride out turbulent economic conditions.

Companies can also rest assured that their travelers receive world-class customer service from our extensive worldwide travel service network. This is a unique combination that proved invaluable during the period immediately following September 11, when many travelers who had booked online with other providers found themselves stranded, unable to get home. In contrast, American Express helped companies generate reports to locate their travelers and had the resources available to handle the huge increase in call volume during this crisis.

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | + Articles

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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