American Express Co. has begun using the Internet to attract corporate card clients.
Through a service called "benchmarker" on American Express' Canadian Web site (www.americanexpress.com/canada), executives who manage corporate travel expenses can compare their costs to those of other companies.
The free service "is a good foot in the door for prospecting new travel management clients," said Suzanne Filiatrault of Quadravision Communications, the Toronto company that designed American Express' Canadian Web site.
Benchmarker asks executives to detail their company's expenses on a survey. A score is generated showing how the company compares to others in its industry and to companies that spend similar amounts on corporate travel. The program then compares the company's expenses to the national average and offers a score rating its cost-control policy as lax, moderate, or restrictive.
The benchmarker program has been available outside the Internet for several years, but until recently it was only sold through American Express sales representatives, said Shane Joseph, a spokesman for the card company. By posting it on the World Wide Web and eliminating the fee, the company has opened the program to a much wider audience, he said.
American Express' Canadian Web site, launched in July, offers other features that its U.S. counterpart does not. Among them is a version in French, which was introduced in October.
Other extras are a service that sells last-minute vacation deals and a service aimed at travelers who plan to combine a business trip with vacation.
The business-vacation service puts customers in touch with travel agents who have first-hand experience in the destination. For example, an executive traveling to Israel for business and pleasure is connected with an agent who knows Israel.
The service is designed to give corporate card customers one-stop shopping, Mr. Joseph said. "Cardholders don't have to call several different numbers to book their personal and business plans."