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Travel Management

 November 30, 2010
American Express Expands Its Business Travel Service Options

 American Express Business Travel announced a new option for corporate traveler service and support called universal aXcess. Launched within a new suite of services called aXcess, with universal aXcess global corporations are provided a consolidated multi-market, multi-platform, online and offline integrated service platform allowing travelers to access their service channel of choice: online tools, travel consultation and agent support, as well as on- the-go mobility tools for itinerary management and emergency services.

The responses from a new American Express survey [1] underscored the need for a service option that offers the best of both online and offline service. It found that the majority (55%) of more than 1,000 business travelers surveyed in the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Australia, preferred to book their travel online, while almost half (46%) of travelers said they are more likely to turn to an agent for help when traveling.

"Service is core to the American Express brand and core to any se rvice strategy is innovative technology, investment in people and an unwavering focus on execution," said Julie Bottner, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Service Delivery, American Express Business Travel. "As market conditions change, we have a responsibility to transform our business travel operations and services to support the evolving needs of our customers. Through our newly branded aXcess suite of service delivery offerings and capabilities, universal aXcess was created for clients who would benefit from what this model offers -- consolidated offline servicing, online capabilities and on-the-go tools for their travelers -- delivered with the tools, change management techniques, quality controls, and training that have been the hallmark of our servicing value proposition."

As the second-largest area of controllable spending for most companies, business travel and expense is a key area for cost control. Consolidating service locations, while maintaining consistency around the world, helps companies to achieve efficiency targets. According to the survey, eight in ten (81%) business travelers feel that it doesn't matter where in the world their travel agent is sitting, as long as the agent has access to their existing travel itinerary and is able to help make changes.

With universal aXcess companies can consolidate their travel servicing through a global center. The new consolidated service platform provides travelers with a single telephone number from their home country that can be used for all of their travel servicing needs. Travelers will be connected to a central team with visibility into their company's corporate policies and preferred supplier agreements to their own personal travel preferences and itineraries. And, while on-the-go, travelers have access to telephonic and online support, emergency services and a new mobility offering.

When ranking service expectations by importance, more than one half of business travelers surveyed feel services by an experienced and knowledgeable travel agent, and their travel agent having access to the most advanced technology to be most important service they can receive (53% and 51%, respectively).

"With universal aXcess, no matter who a traveler speaks with, they will receive high quality service and consistency from their company's designated central team due to our strategic focus and investments in both agent training and technology platforms," said Ms. Bottner. "Additionally, our global scale enables us to deliver savings and efficiencies without sacrificing the service our customers expect from a travel management company in today's "New Normal" environment."

The aXcess suite of servicing offers and capabilities provide companies with the flexibility to design a service configuration around their preferred channel of delivery or combine multiple options. Additional benefits provided through aXcess and included with universal aXcess are travel alerts and information that can be proactively pushed out to the business traveler to help them prepare for their trip and while on the road particularly if there are situations disrupting transportation methods. Additionally, the aXcess suite provides virtual meetings capabilities and mobility solutions to service and equip business travel clients in this new business operating environment.

American Express Business Travel has rolled out the universal aXcess servicing platform to its client base and already has several clients moving to this platform. Prior to making it available to its client base, the Company worked with its largest global client to implement universal aXcess and has been delivering service to them through this model for over a year.

[1] The American Express Business Traveler research conducted by Echo Research was completed online among a random sample of business travelers on October 21-29, 2010. The results of the research sample of 1,009 frequent business travelers (average of 3+ per year with one international trip) have a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

www.americanexpress.com/businesstravel