Rearden Commerce Inc., a startup developer of an on-demand business services platform, has formed an alliance with WorldTravel BTI of WorldTravel Partners LLC, one of the top travel management companies, to help it sell its services platform to large enterprise customers.
Rearden, based in San Mateo, Calif., has developed a Web-based application designed to give corporate users instant access to essential business services, such as travel, hotel and dining reservations, package shipping and audio or Web conferencing.
For example, the application can provide instant links to key service providers such as United Parcel Service of America Inc., Federal Express, or the U.S. Postal Service, for shipping, according to Patrick Grady, Rearden founder and CEO.
The selection can be set to whatever services happen to be the corporate standard, based on discount and service agreements, Grady said. The company said it can provide access to 130,000 different global suppliers across the Web, depending on an organizations needs.
The system also has the potential to help organizations better control spending by reducing the number of services that are purchased outside of contracts and discount agreements, according to Grady.
Grady started organizing Rearden Commerce in 2000, but the company didnt start to publicly market its on-demand service until early this year.
Rearden currently has about 11 corporate customers, but other deals are in the pipeline and the company expects that sales and deployments will continue to gain momentum, said Tony DAstolfo, Reardens vice president of travel services.
"We expect this partnership to actually help us do that," DAstolfo said. WorldTravel BTI has a "global footprint," he added. "They have got an extensive client base. They do particularly well in the large end of the market. They have a very nice share of the top 100 buyers of travel in North America."
WorldTravel BTI and Rearden were brought together by mutual clients who thought an integration of the two companies services would benefit both companies as well as their prospective customers, said Tom Lacny, WorldTravel BTI executive vice president.
WorldTravel BTI gives clients access to its travel services through corporate intranets, Lacny said. "But, increasingly, those clients are looking to expand the content and expand the reach of those services," to serve a work force that is increasingly active 24/7 somewhere around the world, Lacny said.
"From our perspective the Rearden relationship really broadened the breadth of services" and expanded them beyond the traditional travel-related services that the industry typically provides, he said.
WorldTravel BTI and Rearden are currently working together to deploy the Rearden commerce platform with three corporate customers, Lacny said, although the company has " discussions going on with probably eight to 10 others."
Large and midsize corporations all make extensive use of travel and business services of all kinds, Lacny said. "The market is many times bigger than we have the resources to chase, and so, in many respects, we are going to deploy as quickly as we can based upon the response we get from the marketplace," he said.
Reardens alliance with WorldTravel BTI and the introduction of its on-demand business commerce application are significant developments in the corporate travel and procurement field, said Norman Rose, president of Travel Technology Consulting Inc. a travel industry research and consulting firm.
"Rearden is taking an approach to travel as being a part of a whole group of on-demand services," Rose said, adding that there is a trend in the corporate world and in the travel industry to make travel part of a centralized corporate procurement function.
The Rearden package provides a way to give employees controlled access to a standard set of business services, which in turn gives companies "a greater ability to control some of the indirect purchasing that is happening out there," he said.
The alliance is also a smart move for WorldTravel BTI, one of the four largest travel management companies in the world, Rose said: Its a way that WorldTravel can deliver added value to its clients "beyond, perhaps, even managing travel" to the procurement of other business services, he said.
Rose described the Rearden package "as a really well-thought-out application" built by a team that has considerable experience in the travel services business.
Several of Reardens executives, Rose noted, formerly worked with GetThere.com, an online travel services Web site that was acquired by airline reservations and travel services giant Sabre Holdings Corp.