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Travel Management

 February 02, 2010
American Express Business Travel Launches 'aXcentis'

 Regardless of company size, business travel is frequently one of the largest controllable expenses -- yet many small to mid-sized companies may not believe travel management programs are accessible for their travel budget. To meet these companies' needs with a range of services tailored to their unique requirements, American Express Business Travel has reaffirmed its commitment to small and mid-sized companies with the launch of aXcentis. Backed by American Express Business Travel's global travel management expertise, aXcentis is a newly branded offer introducing new capabilities and enhanced services focused on delivering localized, flexible and comprehensive travel management programs to companies with up to $10 million in annual travel spending.

"The new brand, aXcentis, is part of an enhanced suite of services and new capabilities designed to address the evolution of small to mid-sized company needs for sophisticated managed travel programs at a reasonable cost," said John Berkley, vice president, U.S. middle market client segment, American Express Business Travel. "We have a long history of working with small and mid-sized firms, but many of our services have not been clearly defined and we saw an opportunity to add new innovations through one singular offering. It was important to launch aXcentis as a way to raise awareness about our services and further demonstrate our commitment to helping these companies get their travelers back on the road and growing their business."

Transcending the basic tools and practices traditionally employed by small and mid-sized businesses, aXcentis can manage 100 percent of total travel and expense spending focusing on:

• Program Strategy -- Applying proprietary methodology to evaluate a company's current travel and expense process, identifying areas of improvement and matching a business goal-driven program with clearly defined measurements for return on travel investment.

• Cash Flow Management / Spend Recycling -- Employing a system to manage budget spent on unused travel so these resources can be applied to future trips; this "spend recycling" technique can save companies 3-7 percent, freeing up cash that can be used to invest in other business areas.

• Insight and Benchmarking -- Using its large and comprehensive database of T&E spend to deliver business intelligence that informs sourcing and spend efforts and provides the basis for benchmarking and performance measurement.

Driving Return on Travel Investment

A well-designed travel management program helps companies ensure that they do not under-invest or overspend as their need for travel increases in line with economic revival. Recent studies suggest that business travel can have a positive impact to growing revenues, and companies with a managed travel program can achieve a greater return on their travel investment.

Berkley continued, "A common challenge facing small to mid-sized companies is that many lack a dedicated internal travel department, and with the Great Recession, most businesses were forced to cut back on resources and spending dedicated to travel services. But in the new normal of business travel -- where companies will begin traveling again but with likely spending constraints -- there is a clear opportunity for these companies to invest their travel spending more strategically."

Ongoing program management is handled through a local and dedicated aXcentis client management team that will work with companies to optimize their program and provide counsel to help them realize the greatest return on travel spending. Clients also have access to experienced travel counselors who understand the needs of small and mid-sized companies and are available 24 hours a day.

To underscore the combined dual global and local nature of the aXcentis brand, American Express Business Travel has introduced the tagline, 'Wherever you are, we speak your language'. The name 'aXcentis' is derived from the word 'accent', illustrating American Express Business Travel's emphasis on the new offering. An accent is also literally "a mark used in many different languages to create emphasis on specific sounds" -- symbolizing American Express Business Travel's ability to provide local service, worldwide. The American Express Business Travel 'X' branding standard was used to illustrate how aXcentis is a key component of the overall corporate brand, taking American Express Business Travel's core attributes and incorporating them into the new offering. The brand also introduces a new vibrant orange color to the American Express palette, giving aXcentis a unique visual identity.

Additional benefits of aXcentis include:

• Access to exclusive negotiated deals with suppliers and the lowest total trip costs in the industry.

• An automated travel manager suite, including a pre-trip auditor and authorization tools, which support travel policy both on and offline. Additionally, traveler tracking tools are included to help companies identify where their travelers are at all times.

• A meetings management package that includes a self-service booking tool for smaller meetings and access to a meetings desk of experts to assist with larger meetings.

• Tools to calculate potential savings, recover unused airline tickets automatically, and manage expenses online.

The new aXcentis brand and offering is being rolled out in six key markets including the U.S., Canada and Australia. In the UK, the Nordic region and France a similar platform is being launched called aXcent.