Chase Launching New Travel Portal This Year, To Become Third Largest Travel Agency

This spring Chase revealed that they would launch ChaseTravel.com this year. They are still on track and fleshing out more detail about what it will look like.

They’ve expected the product to generate $10 billion of sales in 2023 and $15 billion by 2025, making it the third largest travel agency behind Expedia and Booking.com. Already Chase generates 25% of total leisure travel spend on its cards.

To date Chase has been assembling the pieces,

  • Buying cxLoyalty as a booking platform. That service used to run Chase Travel before the move to Expedia. Now, moving back, they’ve got 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 (the latter are actually quite good as far as these things go).

  • Acquiring travel agents at Frosch International Travel

  • Launching airport lounges in partnership with Collinson (the parent of Priority Pass runs The Club lounges through their Airport Dimensions subsidiary). Known lounges include New York LaGuardia, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boston and Hong Kong but they’re talking up current plans for a total of 9.

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. Meanwhile 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). 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.

JPMorgan executives say they want to dominate on extravagant itineraries, helping customers book spas, dinners and experiences.

“More people are interested in being inspired right now, saying, ‘I want to have one of those social-media-type moments so tell me where to go,’” said Jason Wynn, the head of the new travel unit.

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 for your trip 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 window soon enough.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. ANYTHING would be better than their current portal and customer service. I willingly give up 5x points to book direct elsewhere (via AMEX), eroding the value of my CSP significantly.

  2. If ‘anyone’ can create a meaningful, workable, useful online travel agency, it would be Chase. No question that it’s desperately needed by experienced travellers. If Chase goes about this the way they’ve presented and manage the Sapphire cards, I believe that it will be very successful.

    I use Hilton and IHG almost exclusively for accommodations. Hilton is miles above IHG when it comes to the kind of travel experience I’m looking for. With Hilton, I feel that they’d strive to produce almost anything I asked for. I feel the same about the potential of a ‘real’ Chase online TA. It would be wonderful to know that a Chase TA stands behind all our plans. I’d happily give up all my loyalty programs, except HHonors, to book all my travel through Chase.

  3. @JOhn Dalton – there’s a search box on the right hand side. Although personally I just use google “site:viewfromthewing.com [search terms]”

  4. At this point, we can only speculate as to the ultimate range of services and quality of execution. There will likely be hiccups in the first few months. Check back in a year.

  5. What are/would be the drawbacks of using Chase’s travel portal? I’ve been under the impression we’re far better off booking directly with the airline/hotel etc rather than using a middleman like expedia, booking.com, and Chase.

  6. As one who tries to use their ultimate reward points I was very happy that I recently booked several hotels and a rental car in Portugal through their new travel site. To receive 10x on my spend in points was great. As long as they offer enough incentive to book, I will try and use them. I have been screwed by both Expedia and booking.com in the past. Trying to get a useable response or to have a conversation with either of them is virtually impossible. At least as a Customer of Chase I have a representative that may be able to help if I have issues.

  7. Only issue I have is that is my understanding that when you book through a third party site (like this Chase one will be) you do not get your elite benefits at the hotels. Worked too hard for lifetime status to give that up – unless I’m wrong about this. If so, please set me straight.

  8. @David Moore’s comment about booking via a travel portal vs directly with the provider is front and center in my mind too. It seems that providers always make it more advantageous to book directly and often you may get penalized ( reduced or no point credits, less desirable rooms, etc) by going through a portal. A Chase portal improvement would be great for me since I use a number of their cards. But there would have to be some clear value and it can’t complicate things with the provider.

  9. Hope it is getting much better than what is currently available. I know Expedia sucks but i could book vacation homes when Chase was using them. They lost a lot of functionality in the change. It is much harder to search and sort the hotels.

  10. @Gary – you have a typo in this paragraph reproduced below. It should read “launching airport lounges” not “launching airport launches.”

    Launching airport launches in partnership with Collinson (the parent of Priority Pass runs The Club lounges through their Airport Dimensions subsidiary). Known lounges include New York LaGuardia, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boston and Hong Kong but they’re talking up current plans for a total of 9.

  11. The issue of booking through a portal such as Chase vs. booking direct for loyalty benefits is spot on. Since I am retired, it’s my own shekelim I am spending. I find that, with devaluation of loyalty benefits and the inevitable race to the bottom, I am better buying what I want and accruing UR points, or Amex points, or CapitalOne miles, to buy what I want in the future.

    For hotels, I agree with @huey judy — I am partial to Hampton (Hilton) and Holiday Inn Express (IHG) because they deliver a consistent package of what I want at a reasonable price. Points rarely matter because both have been so devalued. Now, if Chase can deliver a good experience with 5X or 10X UR points, so much the better.

    But I miss the 5X CapitalOne points for booking through Hotels.com.

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