Travel Service Will Pay Business Travelers To Be Flexible
The new app from the founder of Priceline will reward employees who take steps to save their companies money with gift card incentives
In an effort to cater to business travelers who are making financial decisions for their employers every time they book a flight or reserve a hotel room for a business trip, Upside—a company launched by Priceline founder Jay Walker—will offer those travelers incentives to save money.
The company will offer business travelers gift cards from a range of retailers as perks for making smart travel-purchasing decisions. Upside, which plans to launch a beta version in September, aims to change the way companies and their employees think about travel, according to Walker.
“Everybody is walking around in the travel space knowing that the whole space is going to be reinvented in the next five to 10 years,” Walker told travel news site Skift. “There are so many new forces and new tools coming into play. Obviously there is going to mobile, but will there be AI, virtual reality, or hybrid mechanisms nobody has ever thought of before? Business travel is up for grabs because the technology has become so powerful so quickly.”
Upside is targeted toward companies that expect their workers to book travel themselves, rather than those that hire a travel management company. Walker estimates those companies with “lightly managed” travel programs make up about half of the business travel market.
The company’s app will attempt to serve the needs of individual travelers by keeping tabs on which hotels and airlines they prefer, as well as enabling users to book their trips through the app, which will be connected to popular booking sites Expedia and Priceline. Upside will earn money through commissions on user bookings.
According to Walker, the average traveler might receive $100 to $200 in gift cards for using an Upside option on a normal trip. That option might prompt the traveler to stay at a two-star hotel instead of a four-star one, for example, or take an earlier, cheaper flight.
“There’s no business traveler who can’t stay a five minute Uber ride away from the convention center if that’s what they want to do,” Walker told Skift.