United launches meetings portal

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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 preferred benefits. 

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 Cefolia.

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 2017.

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.
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Source: Business Travel News

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