Big Three, Others Join E-business Travel Forum

FRAMINGHAM (03/31/2000) - The nation's Big Three automakers, the Asian Development Bank and the Mayo Medical Center plan to join an electronic-business forum that's designed to streamline business-to-business travel connections.

Organized by the Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania-based Business Travel Coalition, the forum is intended to advance travel managers' e-business knowledge in specific functional areas such as aggregated group buying. Also, BTC-Online.com will provide an interactive technology showcase where vendors can display product and service information.

The forum plans to form a technology advisory council in the near future as well.

BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell said the forum arose from a January brainstorming session he had with a representative from DaimlerChrysler AG.

"The buzz has been that 2000 is going to be the year for B-to-B, and we've seen a lot of companies begin to focus on this at the end of the year," Mitchell said. "You've got all these new departments springing up. We figured these organizations would automatically gravitate toward the travel departments in their companies where some of this stuff is already going on."

A formal announcement on the forum isn't due until April 3, and so far membership has formed through word of mouth. Even so, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. have already joined. Mitchell was able to draw other companies from the BTC membership for the forum, including Black & Decker Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co.

"We're hoping to develop some sort of functional expertise, especially in relation to travel," he said. "Anytime it's a whole new field, people will stumble."

Kevin Killeen, director of employee business travel and worldwide travel services at GM, will serve as the forum's first volunteer president.

"As corporations embrace e-business, they will likely turn to their travel managers for participation because it is becoming widely perceived as fertile ground for e-business," Killeen said. "Moreover, many travel managers have already embraced e-business concepts such as aggregated or group buying and Internet-based travel solutions."

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