News in brief from AMR, Chambers Travel Management, Qatar Airways, Delta Air Lines, Travelport GDS, plus a round-up from the NBTA conference in San Diego
AMR signs LOI for new passenger service system
AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with HP for a next generation passenger service system.
The current system supports services including reservations, pricing, ticketing, inventory and flight information.
The new facility, called Jetstream, will feature these but, said AMR, in a more consistent and agility.
It will also be able to work with online and mobile travel tools as technology plays an increasing part in travel management.
Gerard Arpey, AMR's chairman and ceo, said the LOI decision "indicates our commitment to continue to deliver the most effective tools to our employees and outstanding service to our customers."
Chambers expands international reach
UK-based Chambers Travel Management has announced it is to join GlobalStar to increase its worldwide reach.
GlobalStar's global network of travel providers represents more than $5bn in sales in over 75 markets.
Chambers said it would become a major UK representative when it joins the network on September 1.
"GlobalStar is a dynamic organisation and we're thrilled to be a part of that," Chambers' ceo Chris Thelen said.
Chambers will assist GlobalStar in its review of Germany, France, Italy, Nordics and the Netherlands.
Qatar launches programme for the SMEs
Qatar Airways has launched a rewards programme aimed at the SME market.
It said the scheme, called Qbiz would make it "easier for companies with limited travel budgets to maximise their savings when travelling with Qatar."
The programme lets business travellers build up Qmiles through the airline's Privilege Club loyalty scheme.
These points can be used to get free flgiths or upgrades on the carrier.
Qatar said the scheme had already been successfully tested in its home market.
Akbar Al Baker, Qatar's ceo, said: "The pilot programme proved very successful in Qatar and we are excited to be able to roll-out Qbiz worldwide.
"It will add significant value to local companies' travel bookings."
Delta adds flat beds on all Heathrow flights
Delta Air Lines has launched its new full-flat business class seat on all London Heathrow flights currently being served with B767-400 aircraft.
The new seat is to become the standard in BusinessElite class.
The seat is now available on all flights between London Heathrow and Atlanta, New York JFK and Detroit.
It will also be introduced on flights between Heathrow and Minneapolis next month.
"Delta's frequent business travellers tell us that the comfort of a flat bed is a much-have on flights to and from London," said Armin Venencie, Delta's sales director, UK and Ireland.
The new seat features Delta's on-demand digital entertainment, PC power and USB port for charging small electronics.
Travelport sets up solution labs
Travelport GDS, which owns GDSs Galileo and Worldspan, has set up six Solution Labs across Asia to showcase more effectively its products to travel agents.
The Labs have been set up in company offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore, Manila, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
They represent a ‘virtual agency' where travel agents can use Travelport's end-to-end products including front-, mid- and back-office systems.
The facilities feature front-office solutions like Galileo Desktop, Travelport Reach and Galileo Online Travel.
Some mid- and back-office solutions can also be trialled including E-Tracker and Agency Private Fares (APF).
"The Travelport Solutions Lab provides a facility for our sales team to showcase the breadth of our product offering to prospective customers," said George Harb, its commercial director for Asia.
News in Brief from the NBTA Convention
NBTA attracts 5,500 delegates
The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) international convention and exhibition in San Diego, California this week, has attracted 5,500 delegates.
Kevin Maguire, the Association's retiring ceo, said he had expected figures to be 20% on last year's event but they were down only 15%.
It was the third largest convention the NBTA had ever held, Mr Maguire said.
He said the exhibition was down 12% on 2008 but 80% of space for the 2010 show in Houston had already been sold.
SignUp4 signs up
SignUp4, a provider of strategic meetings management software, announced at the NBTA convention it had signed agreements with both Amadeus and BCD Travel.
Under the deal with the IT company, SignUp4 will integrate its Event Management System with Amadeus e-Travel Management for companies in North America.
This will give travel managers and meeting planners full data on meetings registration and travel bookings.
In the deal with the travel management company, SignUp4 said it had been selected by BCD as a strategic partner for the development of its meetings management technology.
It said its Event Management System and its Travel Management System would become part of BCD meetings and Incentive technology portfolio.
Sabre launches new service for agencies
A new service to help business travel agencies handle multiple air supplier contracts was announced at NBTA by Sabre Travel Network.
Contract Optimization Services will enable agencies to present flight option at point of sale which can give better deals for the client.
Sabre said the service was aimed at medium to large agencies that booked at least one million trips a year.
The service is currently being tested by several agencies.
Sabre said it would increase the number of targeted bookings by 20%, increase supplier override revenues by 10% and cut corporate travel spend by 5%.
HRG focuses on cost control
Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) unveiled new products and enhancements at this week's NBTA convention in San Diego.
HRG launched a global version of its TripPASS service, while HRG Reporting and HRG Travel Watch saw product upgrades.
TripPASS now allows corporate buyers to manage travel spend by quickly approving or denying trips through a new ‘approval dashboard'.
An updated version of the HRG Reporting tool is to be rolled-out in the US to help clients control their travel costs.
HRG's tracking tool Travel Watch, also being launched in the US, allows travel managers to locate travellers and control itineraries.
HRG TripPASS will be available through Galileo's Travel Service in late 2009 and Sabre and Amadeus from early 2010.
Starcite announces meetings partners
Technology company StarCite has announced two partnerships that it said will "greatly expand the reach" of its meetings management platform.
StarCite has launched a new partnership with web service aggregator Rearden Commerce.
An existing partnership between StarCite and event management service Experient has also been expanded.
Rearden customers will now have access to StarCite in order to plan, source and book small meetings.
Customers using Rearden Personal Assistant will also have access to StarCite's Marketplace which links meetings buyers with hotels, venues and other meetings suppliers.
StarCite said Rearden's 5,000 corporate customers would have increased visibility into their employee's meetings spend with real time data.
"Meetings remain a large category of unmanaged spend for corporations. At Rearden Commerce our goal is to provide customers with a single location for all activities that relate to travel and procurement," said Tony D'Astolfo, Rearden's vp worldwide sales.
"As such, StarCite is a perfect addition for the Rearden Commerce Platform."
Experient customers will also have full access to StarCite's entire online Market Place platform through the expanded agreement.
Experient will now use StarCite's services for strategic meetings management, international sourcing and attendee management.
"This expanded partnership puts us in position to deliver unparalleled end-to-end event management for our customers," said Rick Binford, Experient's executive vp for event management services.
"Between StarCite's market leading technology for buyers and its long track record of providing quality RFPs to our supplier partners, this was an easy decision and a natural fit for us."
Both partnerships were announced at the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) annual conference in San Diego.
www.starcite.com www.experient-inc.com www.reardencommerce.com
Reports by Bethany Whymark, Stanley Slaughter and Andrew Gough