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CWT Connect Now brings innovative approach to European mid-market
PARIS | March 10, 2010
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a global leader specializing in business travel management, has launched in Europe CWT Connect Now, an end-to-end travel management solution created to meet the specific needs of small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) with or without a managed travel program. A specially designed online booking tool that offers the features and functionalities most important to SMEs is among the major components.
CWT Connect Now combines market-leading technology with the highest levels of customer support and travel management services for companies and their travelers. Designed for simple online transactions, as well as complex travel requests that necessitate offline expertise, CWT Connect Now provides user-friendly access to a wide range of air, hotel, rail and car rental content, as well as multiple payment, ticketing, invoicing and itinerary options for optimum convenience. Companies with managed travel programs can integrate their travel policy to drive greater compliance. Furthermore, travelers can easily create and manage their profiles for enhanced service at the time of booking. CWT Connect Now also offers comprehensive customer service and support, including set-up and implementation, help-desk assistance, performance monitoring and reporting, offline travel services, 24/7 emergency assistance for travelers, and travel program management and optimization.
To help companies increase savings and optimize their travel spend, CWT Connect Now features multiple fares and rates. It runs on all three major GDS (Global Distribution Systems) and displays low-cost-carrier content as well. CWT-negotiated rates for air transportation and hotels (including non-GDS hotels), clients' own negotiated rates, and lowest available rates and fares are also systematically displayed.
Companies with a managed travel program will access CWT Connect Now through a dedicated Website tailored to their specific needs. Companies that do not have a managed travel program will go through the country-specific CWT Website where they are doing business. CWT will determine which GDS it uses on a country-by-country basis, depending on the specific characteristics of each market.
Commenting on the launch of CWT Connect Now, Floyd Widener, CWT vice president, sales and global program management EMEA (Europe, Middle, East Africa), said, "CWT is offering a best-in-class solution that reflects our ability to listen to and service the specific needs of small and mid-size companies. These companies handle business travel in a variety of ways and CWT is leading the market by bringing innovative solutions and value not only to SMEs with a managed travel program but to those with a less structured approach."
He added, "The online booking tools used by large companies whose transactions are in the hundreds of thousands are neither cost-effective or appropriate for the mid-market. This segment is extremely diverse and complex to service, so a very different solution is needed. Consequently, CWT engaged in extensive dialogue with small and mid-size companies to truly understand their needs and develop the right solution. To that end, we analyzed more than 200 specific criteria that really mattered to this clientele."
According to Mr. Widener, the following criteria are especially important to mid-market clients and were top of mind when CWT Connect Now was being developed:
Reaping the benefits of online booking without having to rely on the established online solutions large companies use
An online booking experience that offers the same user-friendly look and feel leisure travelers enjoy
The ability to start the shopping process without identification and log-in
Access to CWT-negotiated fares
New, multiple forms of payment such as direct bank transfers Traveler profile self-creation and registration
A simple pricing model
Strong return on investment without heavy capital expenditure
Implementation within 24 hours
A single phone number for technical assistance
CWT Connect Now is available to those companies that are currently using CWT for their travel management needs, as well as small and mid-size companies in Europe that simply want an online booking tool to drive savings and traveler satisfaction.
CWT will introduce its new mid-market solution across Europe over the next quarter. The current phase covers Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. Austria, Germany and Italy will follow shortly. The roll-out in Sweden and Switzerland will be completed by June.