(MENAFN- Bangladesh Monitor)
United Airlines plans to launch a new platform in late 2022 that will allow corporate customers to customize their travel programs with the carrier, the airline announced Thursday.
Called United for Business Blueprint, the platform is essentially a RFP customization tool, United's senior vice president of worldwide sales Doreen Burse told , which is“changing the way the airline industry does an RFP with a client.”
“It's about how we contract and how we do RFPs,” she said.“This is about bringing to market the opportunity for clients to build their own program … and using technology to make the RFP process easier.”
Airline bid requests over the years have often focused on securing fare discounts based on volume, travel patterns and history. Some corporate clients, however, now want to incorporate other elements, including experiential aspects, into their sourcing process, Burse explained, adding that United created the new tool after soliciting feedback on the RFP process from corporate customers.
“If someone is only focused on the need for volume discounts, we can still do that,” Burse said.“But there are literally hundreds of other components that we can now build into the RFP and the contract that we put together.”
Some of those elements could include higher status in United's loyalty programs, booking more spacious seats in Economy Plus, Wi-Fi access, baggage allowance and discounts on leisure travel for employees, with“the ability to tailor these options to individual flights , passengers and destinations”, says the company.
United has been beta testing the platform with“a handful of clients,” Burse said, adding that the company has been receiving feedback on the RFP process“for years.” The carrier began surveying customers about process changes shortly before the pandemic and then“used the pandemic to continue to understand these things.”
The company tried to include different industry segments with different needs in the beta test, and the platform will continue to evolve as client needs evolve, Burse said.
In addition, United also plans to launch a new website in late 2022 that is designed with small and medium customers in mind, but which could also be used by larger corporate customers.
It will be aimed at companies that book business travel on the carrier's website or through the United app, and will allow them to enroll in United for Business and manage their program, according to the company.
Customers will be able to rebook and replace their travel, view and use credits for future flights and view travel activity reports based on money spent or trips taken, with the option to filter results, including by date of travel, origin and destination, according to United. There will also be new customizable booking and payment settings that were previously manual processes, Burse said.
“It's for customers who are highly self-sufficient and want to manage their own program,” Burse said, adding that customer feedback is contributing to the new offering.“This is a segment of the business that is quite independent and quite sophisticated. They know exactly what they need and really understand what their travel patterns are.”
Typically, those customers would sign up through the company's business page and be connected to a sales manager, according to United, and some SMB customers would be part of the company's Perks Plus or Pass Plus loyalty programs. The new website will allow those customers to self-serve more easily and have access to a broader set of reporting tools and customization options, according to the company.
“There are clients who thought they might be too small to do business with us, but that's not the case,” added Burse.“We think we have something for everyone.”
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