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Amex acquisition sees end of Mezi deals with travel management companies

Date:2018-06-27 17:10Source:ChinaTravelNews ReadingNumber: Times

Artificial intelligence-powered travel concierge Mezi has pulled out of its travel management company relationships after being acquired by American Express in January 2018.

Mezi, which began as a generalized shopping assistant in 2015, pivoted to travel about 18 months in and courted corporate travel agencies aggressively in 2017 as an AI-enhanced, chat-based travel booking and communication platform that offered aggregated GDS and non-GDS content as well as dining recommendations tailored to individual preferences and corporate policy.

Last July, the company announced three TMC contracts: Adelman Travel, Casto Travel and WTMC (formerly W Travel).

WTMC CEO Sarosh Waghmar tells BTN that American Express had asked Mezi to wind down its agency relationships over the next two weeks. Asked how the loss would affect WTMC, Waghmar shrugged it off.

"They were building a lot of things with us sharing with them how to do it," he says, downplaying the AI enhancements and focusing on backend content aggregation.

"For us, the UI/UX at the front end is the easiest piece. The focus we have right now is on the pipes [and] plumbing. Using the GDS [and] NDC as pipes and aggregating all of that and displaying that to the right source. Fortunately, it won't impact us at all."

Casto Travel, which launched the Marco travel assistant on the Mezi platform in September, saw the writing on the wall soon after Mezi was acquired. CEO Marc Casto says the two companies parted ways a couple of months ago and Casto re-tooled Marco accordingly with Sabre. The new version launched last week.

"The changes in service scope were done in conjunction with client feedback," says Casto. "In large measure the interest was for simple rebooking and information requests, less on itinerary creation." Casto told BTN in September that among launch clients then on the Mezi platform only about 10% of bookings were initiated through the tool.

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