Jay Walker, founder of consumer travel booking site Priceline, is at it again. Only this time, his newest service targets the corporate traveler.
Reports on Tuesday (June 21) said Walker is launching Upside, a mobile app to help corporate travelers stay on budget through a rewards system. The app provides gift cards to professionals that are willing to change or alter travel plans if it means saving money for their business.
The gift cards can range up to $100, while savings on travel bookings typically come in at about 15 percent, reports said, adding that Upside can provide these incentives and discounts by negotiating with travel suppliers.
To comply with corporate travel rules, Upside enables users to choose which hotels and airlines they can book with. While Priceline and other consumer travel booking sites offer similar savings offers to users, Upside reportedly allows corporate travelers to see which travel provider they're booking with before a reservation is made.
Employees answer a series of questions about their willingness and flexibility to change travel plans based on potential savings. For instance, they may be asked whether they would be willing to fly out of a different airport or stay a certain distance away from a convention center.
Once finished, the app generates a package of travel plans, as well as gift cards that are sent to the mobile app for use at specific retailers. The specifics of those discounts are not revealed, so users don't know whether they received a deal from a hotel or airline.
Like other mobile corporate travel tools, Upside automates expense report generation by providing an itinerary and prices, as well as savings generated.
"This is not about, 'I want to fly Delta, and I want to stay at the Marriott,'" explained Walker in an interview with Tnooz. "This is about small employers trying to make sure their employees don't bust their travel budgets and about hotel and airline suppliers being willing to clear excess inventory via discounts, as long as the discounts are hidden in a total package price."