The easy navigation and money-saving deals that travel websites offer make shopping for a vacation much like finding the best deal – but with so many sites, where does one begin looking? That question has been answered already for American Express Travel Service Customers. In an effort to minimize the lazy browsing of flight and hotel deals on many sites, American Express has picked up a new travel agent of sorts: Orbitz. What’s even more telling, is that American Express already had a travel agent for their customers – which was Travelocity. American Express made a business decision to cut it’s ties with Travelocity, in favor of using the services of Orbitz on their website. The official merging of the two companies will take place sometime in the middle of 2012, but there are many things that AE members can look forward to as a result.
Essentially, American Express had a choice to make: which of the plethora of travel agent sites would fit best with the benefits and rewards that AE already provides it’s customers. When it comes down to a cost/benefit ratio, the clear winner is Orbitz, who will take Travelocity’s former place as the booking agent services used by AE. The great thing for Orbitz is that now a certain niche of the travel community – those cardholders that utilize the services of AE – will no longer be browsing many different websites looking for the best deal. This allows both companies to provide service to customers in the most effective manner – in an environment that is set up to make the competitive nature of their services into a stronger combined force, that as of yet, has no competition to match. Invariably, this is good not only for AE themselves, but AE Travel Service members as well. Each company can expect to see in increase in members as each service will be able to bring new customers – and AE can certainly expect an increase in cardholders. As the general price of airline tickets continues to climb – a potential 10% hike in prices compared with last season already emerging among many airliners – it is without doubt that anyone is going to skip on a chance to save money.
To put this into perspective, a member of AE’s Travel Service booking a winter getaway in Vail can not only expect the traditional perks of using AE – such as an automatic doubling of acquired membership points – but also a look into the best hotel/flight packages, check reviews from other members, and most importantly find the best value in Vail for their hard-earned money. It certainly allows the consumer more options for using any points that they have already acquired as well. Oftentimes the problem with point systems is that they can only be used in a certain context in which the consumer eventually needs to take a vacation just to be able to use their points. Now, points earned can be used directly, and even pay for all or part of any trip booked. Frequent users of AE services will immediately notice the benefits of the AE reward point program in relation to making travel arrangements. New customers will be impressed with not only the quality of the services provided, but also the options that were previously not available to non-members.
The best part about this merger between Orbitz and American Express is the ease in which it functions. AE members will be able to go to the website, look at their personal details and navigate through the speedy Orbitz booking process at the same time. Members can see what rewards they have, how they can be used, and then put them to use without leaving the AE site. It provides a unique blend of convenience that has yet to be seen among competitors, and for that reason alone the American Express/Orbitz merger is going to be a big hit among consumers. More planes and hotels will be booked, and American Express will gain more card applications and more consumers using cards they have already. This combination of two great services is more than just smart business; it also takes the customer’s wants and needs into account – certainly a new and refreshing business model. It’s too bad that Travelocity couldn’t keep up with the progressive pace – and in seeing the successes that are inevitable it is likely that they will be very sorry to have let American Express slip out of their reach.
Josey Wales writes for Gore Creek Properties in Vail, Colorado – a vacation rentals company which also offers great advice on what to do in Vail during the holidays.