Orbitz for Business received a shot in the arm to help expand its operations internationally this month through an agreement with IBM. Under the deal, the B2B corporate-travel brand of Orbitz Worldwide will provide the online-booking technology for IBM’s business-travel program.
The business unit will support IBM in 90 countries. The deal runs through 2020.
"The international expansion opportunity that we see for Orbitz for Business is one that we’re very excited by,” Barney Harford, Orbitz Worldwide Inc. CEO and director, told analysts during a quarterly earnings call earlier this month. “And we also think that the opportunity to turbocharge growth by deploying the online-booking engine, on a decoupled basis from the end-to-end experience, is also particularly attractive."
The core business of Orbitz for Business, which launched in 2002, is providing end-to-end booking, where it manages both the online booking technology and the customer service and fulfillment. In the case of IBM, Orbitz will provide the online-booking capabilities, Harford said, noting IBM is working with another travel-management company (TMC) for customer service and fulfillment support.
"Our intention to expand the [Orbitz for Business] business internationally,” Harford said. The company also is pursuing opportunities to provide the Orbitz for Business technology to other TMCs on a booking-engine basis based on particular market opportunities, he said.
"The reason why partners are really interested in buying what we have to offer with Orbitz for Business is because of the consumerized, corporate experience that we’ve been able to achieve,” Harford said. “We are able to deliver an online-booking experience to the corporate traveler that mirrors the tools they choose to use as a leisure traveler on Orbitz.com."
But unlike the consumer-based Orbitz service, Orbitz for Business incorporates all of the corporate traveler requirements around compliance and negotiated rates, he said.
"It’s for these reasons we are able to achieve levels of online adoption of 90% or greater in our plans at Orbitz for Business, versus levels of online adoption more in the 60% range that are seen by the primary online-booking tools that are used by the traditional TMCs,” Harford said “And I think that’s the reason why many, many customers are turning to the [Orbitz for Business] solution."