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.
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
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
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
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.”