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Cendant Offers Car-Rental Booking Technology

Cendant Car Rental Group says its Web-based booking engine will provide airlines, hotels, and other partners with a bigger bottom-line impact than alternatives.

Tony Kontzer

February 4, 2005

2 Min Read

The fast-changing world of travel distribution is forcing suppliers to create new ways to sell their products. The latest attempt at channel creation comes from Cendant Car Rental Group, which has introduced a private-label booking engine that it says offers airlines, hotels, and other partners a bigger bottom-line impact than the alternatives.

Cendant's engine is essentially a front-end interface that sits on top of its direct-connect platform, which links to its reservations system. Many travel suppliers have either built their own proprietary car-rental booking engines or have chosen to integrate with engines provided by third-party aggregators such as Expedia Inc.

Cendant says its engine removes the need to absorb development costs and allows partners to reap the entire commission paid by Cendant rather than see an aggregator take its cut first, says John Peebles, VP of online marketing for Cendant Car Rental Group.

The engine will prove three or four times as lucrative for Cendant's partners as any other car-rental booking tool available, Peebles argues. "If somebody wants to make money on car rentals, this is the single-most-compelling product on the market by far," he says.

Cendant isn't charging for the engine. It plans to work with travel partners to customize its generic interface so that it matches the look and feel of a supplier's site. Once the customization is complete, integration is as simple as tagging the page and linking it to the reservations system that handles bookings for Cendant's car-rental brands, Avis and Budget.

The supplier then will receive the entire commission Cendant pays for rentals: about 10% for full-priced leisure bookings and 5% for discounted leisure bookings. Cendant doesn't pay commissions on corporate-rate bookings.

America West Airlines is the only supplier that has deployed the engine so far, and Cendant reports that deployment has had an immediate impact. Reservations generated from the America West site jumped 50% the day the engine went live, Peebles says. Cendant is marketing the engine to airlines, hotels, and other travel-service providers.

In other travel news, Northwest Airlines this week introduced its AirPlus Company Account, a payment, billing, and reporting system that gives its business customers a travel purchasing and management tool that, the airline says, offers more reporting capabilities than the Universal Air Travel Plan charge-card program used by many companies today.

The AirPlus Company Account, which is the result of a partnership with AirPlus International, lets companies pay for airfares purchased on more than 200 airlines, as well as for numerous other travel expenses, and will be accepted by travel agencies, Northwest, and merchants who accept the Universal Air Travel Plan card. Northwest discontinued use of the Universal Air Travel Plan card in 1997 and hasn't offered a travel-management alternative since then.

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