Microsoft, American Express hook up Reservation system formed for corporate travelers

July 30, 1996|By BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS

NEW YORK -- Microsoft Corp. and American Express Co. said yesterday that they are developing an online reservation system for corporate travelers.

The service will let executives make airline, hotel and rental car reservations and buy tickets using personal computers. It also will let companies monitor employees' spending habits to make sure that they conform to travel policies.

Financial terms of the agreement, which gives American Express a two-year exclusive right to use the system, weren't disclosed.

"We think it's going to greatly reduce the hassle of making travel plans and it's going to help companies save money," said Mike Mulligan, senior vice president of American Express' Interactive Travel Group.

The companies said they've already started testing the system and hope to introduce it during the first half of next year.

Mulligan said American Express hopes the venture will lure new customers to its corporate card and travel businesses.

The system will use the same technology as a consumer travel service called Expedia that Microsoft is developing, said Greg Slyngstad, Microsoft Travel Technologies product unit manager.

"We really needed a partner in the corporate travel arena," Slyngstad said.

The system will be compatible with "any and all" airline computer reservation systems, American Express spokeswoman Christine Levite said.

American Express already licenses Internet security software from Microsoft, as well as software that lets companies tabulate data about employee spending patterns based on their corporate- card spending.

Other companies already offer or are developing similar corporate electronic services. Competitors will include Travelocity, jointly owned by AMR Corp.'s Sabre Group and Worldview Systems Corp. Worldview is a joint venture of Advance Publications Inc.'s Random House and Ameritech Corp.

The new service also will compete against the closely held Internet Travel Network.

American Express already has sought to expand its travel business through a retail service called ExpressNet, which is available through America Online Inc.'s online service and through the Internet Travel Network's World Wide Web site.

Pub Date: 7/30/96

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