When a business traveler, corporate travel manager, or meeting planner is at the point of booking travel, a new tool, Virtual Meetings Expert, from American Express, assesses certain trip data such as price and environmental impact and advises the user on the best option for maximizing: to go ahead with a face-to-face or to shift to a virtual meeting.
If virtual is the way to go, Virtual Meetings Expert shows availability of telepresence locations and other high-end virtual meeting options throughout the U.S. For companies that have private videoconference or telepresence networks in place, Virtual Meetings Expert will aggregate that information along with information on public facilities to offer the broadest number of options.
The process of guiding travelers and managers in deciding whether or not to go virtual will be integrated at the point of sale with both travel-counselor–assisted reservations and online booking channels, and will be based on criteria such as price, duration of the trip, purpose, and environmental impact. In addition, the product can help companies convert conference calls to higher-end virtual meetings.
American Express will host a press conference in late September using telepresence platforms around the world, during which it will unveil the annual Global Business Travel Forecast and Trends Report while allowing the media to experience the virtual meetings environment.
To offer clients the broadest pool of facilities, AmEx is working with multiple third parties to arrange for access to telepresence and virtual meetings inventory. According to a spokesperson, specific partnerships will be announced later this month.
“Ultimately, we believe that both virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings should be components of a best-in-class corporate travel and expense program, particularly in this environment,” said Charles Petruccelli, president, American Express Global Travel Services, in a press release. ”By being able to rely on an automated process, companies can feel confident that employees are making the right decision when it comes to travel versus virtual meetings, and taking advantage of every opportunity to save while maintaining travel that is strategically essential.”
American Express Business Travel is piloting the first phase of the new solution with Fortune 500 company.