In yet another sign that meetings are driving major business
to travel suppliers, United Airlines introduced a meetings portal on Monday as
part of its Jetstream web offering.
The move follows a Delta push in 2016 that allowed corporate
clients to associate or separate their meetings air spending from transient
spending and to avail meeting attendees of corporate transient discounts and
United executives told Business Travel News that the
platform allows for all that, plus. "United Meetings goes beyond what our
competitors are doing," said senior vice president of worldwide sales Jake
Among the selling points of the portal is what United refers
to as the "discount in a day" feature, which allows a meeting
organizer to register a meeting within the United portal and receive discount
offers within 24 hours.
"We now have the ability to make these discounts
flexible," said Cefolia. "The more information we have [about the
account] and the more we know about the nature of the meeting and demand on our
flights, we are willing to offer flexible discounts."
Once a meeting organizer accepts a discount offer, he or she
will receive a promo code to distribute to meetings attendees.
If the user already has a corporate transient agreement with
the airline, United will connect that information to the meeting behind the
scenes to realize the transient discount. The airline will also take the onus
of capturing all the corporate bookings in the date range and with likely city
pairs to credit to the meeting account for reward purposes, without collecting
additional information or requiring any special forms from the meeting
organizer. Travelers under the meetings code will also receive United's
Corporate Preferred benefits.
"Is it possible that one or two [transient bookings]
will get in there when they aren't technically tied to the meeting?" posed
Cefolia. "Yes, but we think that will be pretty rare."
The meetings portal will offer users meeting accounts and
dashboard capabilities that will show active and historical meetings, as well
as air booking activity on each discount promo code, and will credit spending
volume to the user's account as attendee segments are flown. That volume credit
translates into what United calls "amenity funds," which have been a
feature of the Jetstream portal for corporate accounts since it launched in
Amenity funds are the basis for United's self-service
upgrades and benefits. "Rather than contracting those benefits upfront,
the value is loaded and people can choose what they want in real time,"
explained United managing director of sales effectiveness Karen Catlin.
She cited beverage coupons, seat upgrades, travel
certificates, United Club passes and MileagePlus status as examples of what
users can "purchase" with those soft-dollar accounts. "That
flexibility has been a huge benefit," she said, and it now has been extended
to meeting organizers.
Source: Business Travel News