Travel management provider Corporate Traveler, the division of Flight Centre Travel Group that focuses on small and midsize enterprises, has unveiled a new travel booking and management platform.
Melon is a new platform that provides traveler-facing functions such as booking tools and trip management. Manager-targeted controls like duty-of-care, data analytics and control mechanisms are all available via the TMC’s mobile and desktop versions.
Melon will be available today to Corporate Traveler customers based in America and Canada. The platform will also expand in future markets, including Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Australia.
Corporate Traveler reports that the platform is in production for over one year. Development began amid the Covid-19-induced halt to corporate travel activity. TMC claimed that during the time pause it took advantage of the chance to assess its clients’ needs for travel management and determine the best way to meet those requirements.
Corporate Traveler used the substantial technology investments made by its parent company in recent years to help reach that goal. Those plays include the acquisitions of booking technology specialist WhereTo and mobile chatbot platform Sam, along with an equity investment in air content aggregator TPConnects.
Each of those technology investments bear fruit in the form of Melon, which features a multi-source booking tool including air content from both global distribution system and New Distribution Capability sources, along with hotel content piped in via an existing Flight Centre partnership with HotelHub. Chatbots and humans are available to provide support through the chat-based system.
Melon’s artificial intelligence-driven searching capability takes into consideration both past traveler behavior, preferences and admin-set spending restrictions. It also includes a dashboard that displays spending metrics and manager information. Melon features include safety-related and health-related features, such as advisory and alerts for travel agents and real-time tracking of traveler activity.
The landscape of SMEs’ travel bookings and management is currently in flux. As some high-profile startups that had focused on that segment, including Upside Business Travel and Lola, recently have ceased operations in the wake of the sharp corporate travel downturn over the past 18 months, such deeper-pocketed established TMCs as American Express Global Business Travel have enhanced their focus on the SME market, considering the segment a ripe growth opportunity as travel resumes post-pandemic.
On the large corporate and enterprise side, Flight Centre’s FCM brand—which focuses on servicing that audience—is in the midst of a technology revamp of its own, earlier this summer rolling out a new proprietary travel tech platform in China ahead of a planned global tech platform overhaul set to go live later this year.