Chase Becoming 3rd Largest Online Travel Agency To Rival Expedia,

Chase has been planning ‘the new Chase Travel’ for some time. They even promised it would launch last year. The idea is to bring together all of the disparate assets, from booking to dining to advice, in order to become a force in lifestyle that competes with the biggest players in the space. This is supposed to appeal to affluent customers who will be stickier with Chase’s banking services, and help them grab a greater share of investable assets and card spend.

They provided some data on where they are and where they’re going as part of the bank’s investor day. First, here are some of the things they’ve done to assemble the pieces.

  • Buying cxLoyalty as a booking platform. The company used to run Chase Travel. Chase moved to Expedia, then bought cxLoyalty and now they have their own platform.
  • Buying The Infatuation which also includes Zagat, as a mechanism for offering robust advice to customers. They’re building out hotel recommendations alongside existing dining guides, and the dining guides are actually quite good as far as these things go.
  • Acquiring travel agents at Frosch International Travel because reasons.
  • Launching airport lounges in partnership with Collinson (the parent of Priority Pass runs The Club lounges through their Airport Dimensions subsidiary).

Their goal is,

Creating an end-to-end journey that delivers curated content, unique experiences, and elevated servicing while operating as a self-sustaining business

Chase travel did $8 billion in sales in 2022 with 24% transaction growth year-over-year and 40% growth in number of customers purchasing travel through their portal. They expect to hit $10 billion in sales this year and expect $15 billion in sales by 2025. And 25% of leisure travel spend is on Chase cards, which isn’t surprising given Chase’s share of the travel rewards space. Chase is positioned to be the third largest travel agency behind Expedia and

Chase’s airport lounges, using the Sapphire branding which will help tie together their lifestyle offerings, have finally launched both in the U.S. and abroad. Hong Kong has been open, Boston opened last week, and there’s a ‘Sapphire Terrace’ (not a ‘Sapphire Lounge’) in Austin.

The full slate of known Chase Sapphire lounges is:

  • Boston: between Terminals B/C
  • Dallas: Gate D35
  • Hong Kong: Terminal 1 (Open)
  • Las Vegas: Concourse C
  • New York LaGuardia: Central Terminal
  • Philadelphia: D/E connector
  • Phoenix: Terminal 4
  • San Diego: Terminal 2
  • Washington Dulles: Concourse A

Ultimately Chase sees an opportunity to capture more travel spend, and keep customers in their ecosystem. They see the same opportunity in the home and auto ecosystems, but haven’t really captured those. Travel booking helps them capture their customers’ travel spend in terms of experience. They’ll capture the booking commissions (which could reach $750 million, not pocket change even to Chase). And they’ll have even richer data to cross market to their customers – and to rent to other firms.

J.P. Morgan Chase is going up against American Express and now Capital One in the travel portal and lounge business. The problem is that nobody yet does online travel really well. Expedia hasn’t actually gotten better from a consumer standpoint in 20 years. Instead they spend a lot on advertising to bring customers to their site, and they sell those customers to hotels. They don’t actually add value to a customer’s trip, guiding them towards better experiences.

Travel is complicated and advice is missing. You go online and see schedules and price, or location and property features, but little to tell you whether to take that 45 minute connection in Chicago in winter, whether you should go out the night before or take the first flight rather than last flight of the day, and what kind of backup options you may have.

Google was supposed to disrupt travel search and booking but that’s been the next big thing in the space for over a decade. Whether or not banks deliver, having more competitors can only benefit consumers. It’ll be exciting to watch but I remain skeptical because most acquisitions turn out badly and nobody has really done it yet because it’s hard.

Chase has the resources but so does Google, and they have the AI programmers and personal data with which to do mass customization and personalization in a really unique way – yet they haven’t managed it (though Google Flights is quite useful). We’ll have a better sense of where this is going soon enough.


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