American Express Global Business Travel (No. 3 on Travel
Weekly's 2018 Power List) has partnered with Lola.com, the agency that employs
a travel chat app powered by artificial intelligence, to create an offering
that ties together Lola's software and GBT's content.
"GBT and Lola will be selling the product together, so
we each are building our own sales team and we're going to be partnering on how
we market and sell the product," said Paul English, Lola co-founder and
chief technology officer.
Lola, founded in 2015, connects travelers with agents via an
in-app chat to book and change travel plans; agents are assisted by artificial
intelligence. While originally seeking both leisure and business travelers,
when English realized last year most users were business travelers, Lola
shifted its focus squarely to that audience.
Now, in partnership with GBT, the two companies will offer a
product that uses Lola's software and features GBT's content, like air and
hotels. Customer service will be handled by both Lola and GBT, depending on
which company acquired the customer, English said.
The ideal customer is a business with 20 to 200 employees
whose travel is currently unmanaged.
"They're just starting to feel some growing pains and
stress, and they need a really simple management platform so they can set out
some guidelines and policies really simply and allow people to have a simple
booking experience that integrates into the management platform," English
Evan Konwiser, vice president of marketing and product strategy
at GBT, said the new product in partnership with Lola targets a segment of the
market that GBT hadn't reached previously.
A revenue-sharing model is in place between Lola and GBT.
Lola will continue offering its platform independent of GBT's
content, as well.
"From our point of view, we have two go-to-market
programs that we're running," CEO Mike Volpe said. "One is with this
phenomenal new partnership with Amex GBT, but we're also ourselves continuing
to build out our direct-selling model."
Pricing will be based on a flat, annual subscription fee (there
are no booking or transaction fees).