Southwest Airlines has launched a new service enabling travel managers to book business travel through the channel of their choice.

The airline is celebrating the evolution of its dedicated business travel team with a new suite of services and a new name, Southwest Business.

Southwest Business brings travel managers and travel management companies new capabilities within Travelport’s global distribution systems (GDS) and the Amadeus Travel Platform, the expanded reporting and settlement capabilities with the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). It also brings a larger team to reach more people than ever before — in an effort to showcase the carrier’s business-friendly policies including no change fees (a fare difference might apply) and bags fly free (first and second checked luggage, size and weight limits apply).

Tom Nealon Southwest

Tom Nealon

“For nearly 50 years, we’ve been a business traveller’s airline with high-frequency travel options and low fares. Today’s announcement evolves that philosophy even further by offering travel managers and business travellers new capabilities when booking Southwest travel in the channel of their choice. We’re also making it easy and smooth for travel management companies to do business with Southwest Business through expanded partnerships, the addition of more content within GDS channels, a refreshed SWABIZ booking tool, and more Team Members focused on highlighting Southwest’s business-friendly policies,” said Tom Nealon, President of Southwest Airlines, adding, “Behind this galvanised effort, more than 59,000 Southwest Employees are all focused on bringing more Heart and Hospitality to thousands of businesses that put their trust in Southwest to connect their people to the places important to them.”

As Southwest Business evolves, the Company announced a new agreement to bring industry-standard processes to the Travelport and Amadeus GDS channels including allowing travel managers the ability to book, change, cancel, and modify reservations. The Company anticipates the new capabilities to be ready for bookings by mid-2020, and estimates this new revenue initiative to provide incremental improvements in pre-tax results in the range of US$10m to $20m in the second half of 2020, with significant improvements expected in 2021 and beyond.  By increasing the Company’s participation within these channels to the highest level, travel managers and travel management companies will have access to more of the airlines’ fares and flight schedules.

Southwest is also partnering with ARC to implement industry-standard processes to handle the reporting and settlement of tickets booked through Travelport and Amadeus channels.

“We are delighted to extend our partnership to now support Southwest Business. Whether through traditional channels or with new standards, we continue to deliver airlines’ content just as they want it, and provide agencies with the technology and content to satisfy travellers,” said Greg Webb, Travelport’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our new Southwest Business partnership is a great example of our customer-centric approach.”

“Over the past five years, Amadeus and Southwest together have implemented a technology system designed to provide not only stellar customer service, but also a long runway for Southwest to grow,” said Julia Sattel, President, Airlines, Amadeus. “Today’s addition of distribution content to our technology partnership is a significant milestone. It deepens our companies’ relationship to now include Southwest Business, and strengthens our ability to benefit travel sellers who rely on us to provide tools and world-leading content to help them provide superior service to their customers.”

“We’re excited that Southwest has chosen to leverage ARC’s network of accredited travel agencies to increase their product availability to the corporate traveller,” said ARC Executive Vice President and COO, Lauri Reishus. “We look forward to working closely with Southwest to successfully implement their distribution strategy.”
To complement these additions to its travel solutions portfolio, Southwest recently added a partnership with ATPCO/SITA to refresh product connections via a dedicated, direct-connect channel, and offer its award-winning Hospitality to more corporate travellers.

Southwest Business also continues investing and enhancing its online booking tool, SWABIZ.  With recent upgrades, the site has become a one-stop shopping experience with air, car, and hotel booking functions. SWABIZ recently introduced more robust reporting tools aimed at putting corporate travel managers in control of their organisation’s travel programmes.

Southwest Business is designed around taking the work out of work travel by making it easier to do business with Southwest Airlines. Throughout the past two years, Southwest has been laying a foundation for this announcement with continual growth within the organisation. Southwest Business has added more Account Managers across the United States, a new Business-to-Business Partner Desk (available to qualified accounts), and a new look-and-feel to its SWABIZ booking tool to highlight the carrier’s emphasis on encouraging corporations to put their trust in business travel solutions offered by Southwest Business.