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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Deem Debuts Overhauled Online Booking Platform

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Deem has launched a new online booking tool and travel management platform designed to meet user demand for a mobile-first, consumer-like experience, according to the company. Dubbed Etta—from the acronym for “Easier to Travel Anywhere”—the tool will replace Deem’s existing Work Fource platform and has been in development for the past two years, according to Deem president David Grace.

“We’ve been working on Etta ever since Enterprise Holdings acquired us,” Grace said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic served as an additional demand catalyst for a more traveler-friendly booking and travel management tool. 

“I think the disruption of the pandemic, while devastating for so many, also gave the industry the time to reconsider how they’re managing their programs … and ask questions about what they could be doing better and how to drive more value from their travel programs, and we’re glad we have an answer for them,” Grace said. 

That answer is based largely upon offering what Deem calls an easy-to-use, mobile-centric tool to minimize booking leakage, a long-nagging issue that has taken on newfound urgency for some in a Covid-burdened landscape, in which corporate duty-of-care responsibilities have become even more critical. 

“The changes [in Etta] are all traveler-centric,” Grace said. “We know travelers will stay on the platform and in policy when they love the tool they’re using, and that’s a huge win for travel managers.”

Those advances include a more “intuitive” interface, robust self-service search, booking and trip-modification capabilities, a chatbot assistant, machine learning functionality to adapt to user preferences and a travel newsfeed to deliver relevant information to users within the app, according to Deem. 

Etta also will incorporate Deem’s recently released Traveler SafetyCheck destination safety scoring tool and an automated unused ticket management feature as well as the option to integrate virtual payments via Conferma Pay for bookings made within the OBT—a function available in Work Fource since 2019

An iOS version of the Etta app is available now, with an Android version coming later this year, Grace said. 

The Deem president noted additional advances on the horizon, touting “a very robust and innovative roadmap” as the company seeks to capitalize on increased demand from TMCs seeking to offer enhanced OBT solutions to their corporate travel clients. 

“We believe Deem has a big opportunity to help the TMC market to compete with non‐traditional competitors that are … leveraging technology,” Grace noted. “And we believe a dynamic, traveler‐focused travel platform … is the most important component of any modern travel program.”

Deem’s recent moves in the TMC distribution channel include signing a deal in October 2020 to offer its OBT services to clients of Short’s Travel Management, along with building a booking and travel management mobile app for Direct Travel that launched in June 2020, following an existing distribution pact the companies inked in 2019. 

Deem announced in June 2019 that it would sunset its expense management platform and focus on providing OBT services. 

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