PHOENIX — American Express Travel is opening its Travel Insiders program to new applicants, allowing representatives to apply to become insiders and benefit from leads received from American Express’ website, the company said during its Travel Forum at the Arizona Biltmore here.

“This has been a phenomenal program for those of you that are in it,” said Claire Bennett, executive vice president of American Express Travel. “Probably the biggest thing that we’ve heard from all of our representatives is they want more people in their groups to be in it, so we are going to reopen admission to the Travel Insiders.”

“What I love about the Travel Insiders is that they serve and inspire,” said Claire Bennett, executive VP of American Express Travel.
“What I love about the Travel Insiders is that they serve and inspire,” said Claire Bennett, executive VP of American Express Travel.

The program invites American Express representatives to apply to be insiders on certain destinations or specializations, whether it be a particular location, cruises, family travel or similar. In turn, consumers can find them on American Express’ website and contact them for their travel needs.

According to Bennett, admission to become a Travel Insider has been closed for some time, but it will now be reopened.

“What I love about the Travel Insiders is that they serve and inspire, and it’s a win for our customers and it’s a win for them, as well,” she said. “So you will see more to come on that, and we’re really just working through the destinations that we want to continue to add.”

Tanuj Suri, vice president of premium customer experience, said American Express Travel currently has about 150 insiders, and the program will be expanded based on where, destination-wise, insiders are needed.

Insiders are vetted by applying (they need to have fulfilled a certain amount of trips per destination within a certain amount of time to qualify) and going through a multiple-stage interview process. Since it first began several years ago, Suri said the program has shrunk slightly based on needs assessments, but American Express Travel has a renewed interest in adding more insiders where needed.

Bennett said expansion is the goal, but with the right insiders.

American Express Travel is also working on creating a knowledge-management system, Bennett said. The system will collect data from American Express Travel employees around the world, creating a database of travel experiences and information that is easily accessible.

Ideally, the system will categorize information about destinations and experiences that can’t be found online, and have that information readily available to American Express Travel’s network, according to Bennett.

Much of the information in the system will likely come from locals, in-market, who have the insights, she said.

“That’s the power of our network, and that’s how we really win — is when we all do this together,” she said.

While nothing about the system is set in stone, Bennett said that in her mind, it would be ideal to have one person in each of American Express Travel’s 22 global markets curating the information available for their market.

American Express Travel representatives will also soon have access to one cohesive Supplier Learning Academy, and will be able to see the same information that call center employees have had access to in the past.

Bennett said there were previously two versions of the online education system: one for representatives, and one for American Express employees. Now, all of the information — which suppliers upload to the site — will be accessible by all on one system.

American Express recently announced new card membership benefits, including that Platinum Card holders will receive 5X Membership Rewards points on air purchases. American Express plans to introduce more card-member benefits, Bennett said, but she remained tight-lipped on what, exactly, they might be.

“More to come on that,” she said, “but you will see a lot more information for our card members about benefits that we’re adding that get to why you should book with American Express Travel.”

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