Last updated: 02:12 PM ET, Mon August 08 2016

Priceline Founder Unveils Business Trip Incentive Service Upside

Business Travel | Gabe Zaldivar | June 21, 2016

Priceline Founder Unveils Business Trip Incentive Service Upside

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You can’t force an employee to take the redeye out to stay in a hotel that’s miles from the convention center. But you can certainly nudge them towards fiscal responsibility with an innovative incentive.

And that’s exactly what Upside promises when it launches later this year.

The website/mobile solution is the brainchild of Priceline founder Jay Walker and incentivizes how business travelers book trips, giving the corporate traveler prizes in the form of gift cards for frugal spending and garnering savings for the companies that have them banging the drum abroad.

Walker explains at what fuels Upside’s promise: “Most business travelers have a valuable, hidden asset that’s worth a small fortune on every trip they take. The asset? Flexibility. Specifically, small amounts of flexibility on the flights and hotels that a business traveler is willing to use on any given trip.”

Walker goes on to explain that business travelers are a special bunch that aren’t nearly as selective as one might think.

Corporate travelers assuredly want comfort and convenience of amenities to be sure. However, when it comes down to it Walker believes they are more inclined to perhaps take an earlier flight or stay in a less than desirable location if the proper enticements were offered.

And that’s where Upside – promised to launch in its beta version in about 10 weeks, or mid-September – really shines.  

Upside is a gateway to savings for companies and a portal for gift cards for the discerning businessperson.

Walker explains the new venture and exactly how much you can expect to earn: “On a typical domestic business trip, travelers who buy an Upside Package from us can expect to get $100 to $200 in free Gift Cards to spend at their choice of stores. International travelers typically get twice as much. And because Upside travelers choose to buy less-expensive flights and rooms, their companies naturally reduce travel costs by 5 percent to 15 percent.”

Explained via press release, a traveler will hop on the website or perhaps the iOS app when it goes live and pore over various options once settling on trip parameters.

You dictate when you need to get to a city with what is explained as flight windows. From there, you can choose a package that will get you there and hotels that might garner various levels of gift card returns.

An incentivized way of booking business travel has already been in use from the likes of Rocketrip that just recently cleared $9 million in funding, illustrating the success that can be had by shrewdly dictating business itineraries.   

Rocketrip CEO Dan Ruch recently told TravelPulse how its specific model works and its obvious benefit: “Rocketrip rewards business travelers for spending smart by letting them keep half of what they save their companies on trips. It's a perk with real value. In 2016, the average Rocketrip traveler has saved her company $118 per flight and $72 per hotel night, which comes to nearly 30 percent against what their trips were budgeted at. The employee keeps half those savings to redeem for stuff she actually wants, like cash and gift cards.”

Back to Upside, the model seems to be similar but also highlights its inherent flexibility, which is a centerpiece from its inception.

As noted, Upside users can access 24/7 toll-free customer service in the likely scenario that a trip need be amended or changed.

The service uses a Flexibility Engine, which is a backend innovation that allows users to also tinker with their trip seamlessly before buying a package.

READ MORE: Microsoft and Concur Aim To Make Business Travel Expense a Breeze 

And if you are the pioneering sort, you can try out Upside before the public at large.

Walker continues: “The soft launch of Upside’s BETA version is planned for mid-September. But we are inviting business travelers to become Upside VIPs starting today.”

Simply head to its website and request a trial of the service, which may just net you $150 in gift cards from stores of your choosing.

Life on the road can be grueling, so it’s no wonder that many in the field would much rather pay a little extra on the company dime for convenience while they work far from home.

But companies don’t necessarily have to live with the rising price of travel. If you reward travelers, then they may very well show a desire to flaunt flexibility in return for some measure of personal reward.  


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