Travel booking and management provider AmTrav has launched a new tool for guest travel bookings, enabling them to be booked through the AmTrav platform.
With the Gather tool, travel arrangers can set policies and parameters for guest travelers and then send out an invitation for the travelers to book their own itineraries. The travelers will have access to the companies’ negotiated rates and can input their own information, such as loyalty program membership, for the trip and pay via the method selected by the arranger.
That replaces the typically time-consuming, email-based guest travel booking methods that many companies use today, requiring communication between the traveler and travel arranger, AmTrav product marketing director Elliott McNamee said.
“If you look at most guest travel solutions, you realize they’re just throwing travel agents at it, having them fill out a form, send an email and then have a bunch of back-and-forth,” he said. “This takes two minutes [for arrangers] to set up one trip, then the traveler can get it done and have secure access to payment and policies.”
Travelers booking with Gather also have around-the-clock access to AmTrav travel advisors in case of flight disruptions, eliminating the need to try to make new arrangements directly with an airline or through the arranger, McNamee added.
In addition to typical guest travel situations, such as bringing in a job candidate for an interview, the tool has increased relevance in the changing workplace environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where “the typical Chase Sapphire cardholder with [loyalty status] is on Zoom and working from home while the ones on the road are nurses, construction workers or maintenance crews who are less likely to have their own cards,” McNamee said. AmTrav also is looking at the platform’s uses for meetings management, where “the same functionality will work really well.”
There has been some innovation in non-employee travel management in recent years, with Pana among the most notable tools to emerge in the space. Pana, however, was acquired last year by spend management platform Coupa for $48.5 million, and Coupa has not yet revealed its ultimate intentions for the tool. The Beat in December quoted an unidentified TMC executive who said Coupa planned to sunset Pana as a standalone option for TMCs, similar to what it did with the Coupa Travel Saver product that followed its acquisition of Yapta.
AmTrav has been testing Gather with a “select group” of corporate HR and recruiting company clients in advance of its wide rollout on Tuesday, McNamee said. AmTrav will open it up to users who are not AmTrav clients as well, who can pay a one-time upfront fee for using it that also will cover additional services if needed to handle travel disruptions, he said.