Amtrak Building Links To Corporate Booking Tools – Amtrak is building direct connections to corporate online booking tools in an effort to better meet the needs of corporate clients and compete with airlines on short-haul routes, particularly those in the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak in late August plans to launch a direct connection to the nuTravel CTS corporate self-booking tool via an application programming interface, according to nuTravel Technology Solutions president and CEO Carmine Carpanzano. The two companies are sharing development resources and have completed a series of test transactions.

The direct connect gives travelers access to all Amtrak content that is found on its own Web site.

nuTravel will integrate Amtrak content into the flight option matrix. Amtrak’s corporate contract rates will be loaded into the tool.

“The fact that we are going to now be integrated with the air display is key to us,” said Amtrak senior director of travel industry sales Craig White. “The GDS-based tools are a ways away from making that happen at all. A lot of times we may not be top of mind for travelers, particularly in the Northeast corridor and now being a part of that we see it as being a strong growth potential for us.”

According to White, a primary driver in the move to provide direct connections came from corporate clients asking for the ability to better track bookings and have Amtrak volume included in reports.

Meanwhile, Rearden Commerce late last month on its Personal Assistant online booking platform began providing Amtrak content through an API connection via Rail IT services provider Wandrian.

Rearden can ticket Amtrak bookings and enable travelers to print tickets instead of having to access them at self-service station kiosks. According to Rearden vice president of worldwide sales Tony D’Astolfo, corporate rail rates can be accessed through the tool. There is no transaction fee for a Rearden Amtrak booking, but D’Astolfo said Amtrak volume is taken into account when developing corporate account licensing fees. In the next phase of its rail content development, Rearden will integrate Amtrak into the shopping matrix with flight options.

Amtrak has considered other options to deliver online content to corporations, including building its own corporate booking tool, according to White. Amtrak also is available to travel agencies through all global distribution systems.

Amtrak initially began working with Wandrian to gain distribution outside of the United States. Wandrian does not require Amtrak to develop one-off direct connections, enabling Amtrak to link with some leisure travel agencies and now Rearden. White said there are no agreements in place with other corporate booking tools.

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