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11/14/2006
01:53 PM
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American Express Launches New Online Travel Site for Businesses

The company's Intelligent Online Marketplace aims to aggregate inventory from over 135,000 suppliers to give business travelers a single destination to purchase and manage all transportation needs.

Moving to expand its online travel offerings, American Express Business Travel plans on Wednesday to launch a new online market for business travel services.

The company's Intelligent Online Marketplace aims to aggregate inventory from over 135,000 suppliers to give business travelers a single destination to purchase and manage flights, ground transportation, and hotel rooms, as well as ancillary travel expenses such as shipping, dining, and event tickets that tend not to be managed by corporate travel systems.

American Express claims that 49% of all travel and entertainment costs are unmanaged and that businesses pay up to a 20% premium for purchases made outside of preferred providers.

Travel and entertainment is probably the third largest expense at large companies after salaries and benefits, yet it's poorly managed, says Priyan Fernando, executive VP and chief operating officer of global business travel at American Express. "This is about bringing simplicity, convenience, and peace of mind ... into one online marketplace."

American Express's new online marketplace is powered by Rearden Commerce, an online services company. Rearden, in turn, is powered in part by American Express, which has taken a minority stake in the company and plans to name one of its executives to Rearden's board of directors.

Beyond giving managers more visibility into travel expenses and saving money, American Express wants to give employees more time through a better online purchase experience. Over 40% of employees spend more time coordinating business services today than they did five years go, a process that requires visits to four different Web sites on average, according to a study conducted by Lieberman Research Worldwide and commissioned by Rearden Commerce.

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