Innovation often requires organizations to work together in pursuit of a common goal.
In recent weeks, JTB USA and Goodwings have announced their intent to collaborate closely to innovate in the sustainable travel space and promote environmentally responsible travel worldwide and a sustainable future for business travel. JTB USA, a subsidiary of JTB Corp, is a full-service travel management company meeting the needs of all travelers. Goodwings is a climate-focused SaaS travel management platform based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In September 2023, JTB announced participation in a $1.5 million late seed investment in Goodwings. Following JTB’s investment, Goodwings joined JTB Business Travel’s FlexConnectSM Global Affiliate Partner Program, launched in August 2023. While these announcements came in quick succession, the partnership between Goodwings and JTB has been a long time in the making.
“We’ve been in conversations with Goodwings for several years now,” said Geert de Boo, VP of Global Business Travel at JTB USA, “but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated those conversations and led us to talk specifically about an investment and partnership.”
Here’s the story of how the partnership between Goodwings and JTB moved from a possibility to a reality, as well as more details on what this partnership means for small- and mid-size travel management companies (TMCs), the clients TMCs serve, and the business travel industry more broadly.
Goodwings’ Mission: To Challenge the Status Quo in the Travel Industry
In an era dominated by discussions around climate change, the travel industry (which contributes approximately 8-10% of the world’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions) often finds itself at the center of the debate, and rightly so. Far from taking a backseat, Christian Møller-Holst, CEO and Founder of Goodwings identified a business model that could challenge the industry head-on.
“We founded Goodwings in 2015 because we realized that the established travel norms were at odds with maintaining the health of the planet and achieving the ambitious goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Put simply, we were frustrated with the status quo,” said Christian. “With global travel giants incentivizing people to travel because their revenue model depends on it, it became clear that the system was ripe for a change.”
By giving businesses an easy and affordable way to calculate, reduce and report their business travel emissions when booking travel, Goodwings is helping them take more responsibility for their travel carbon footprint, but at no extra cost. “We saw an opportunity to break the system and rebuild it in a positive form, where the commissions from business travel bookings go directly to funding climate initiatives like Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The fact that we can decouple our revenue growth from our client’s emissions with a subscription model means we have nothing to gain from our client’s business travel. In fact, you could say we’re the only travel management company that doesn’t want you to travel!”
JTB Builds an Affiliate Network With Sustainability in Mind
As global conversations around sustainable business practices take center stage, industry leaders face a dual challenge: to innovate while remaining true to their core values. The synergy between Goodwings and JTB is a prime example of how two forward-thinking companies can collaborate to reframe business travel with sustainability at its core.
In parallel to discussions with Goodwings, JTB identified an opportunity to create a wider, flexible network for SMEs that could adapt to the post-pandemic shifts in the business travel sector. As a result, JTB launched its groundbreaking FlexConnectSM Global Affiliate Partner Program.
This innovative Program offers smaller organizations a range of benefits, including:
- A global network that merges international reach with localized expertise.
- Enhanced supplier relationships facilitated by JTB’s global stature.
- Access to state-of-the-art tools ranging from sustainability compliance to travel risk management.
- 24/7 emergency service support to ensure immediate resolution of travel-related issues.
- Expert consultancy, drawing from JTB’s deep industry understanding.
The essence of the Program is flexibility. Any company can tailor the Program’s offerings to their unique business needs, ensuring that both large enterprises and SMEs can take advantage of the Program’s high-level services.
Geert de Boo shared his insights on the inspiration behind this move. “Amid the challenges faced during and after the pandemic, we saw an opportunity to be change leaders,” he said. “FlexConnect is our way of ensuring that any organization can adapt and thrive in this new era. Goodwings, with its unique and sustainable approach, highlighted the importance of embedding such considerations into all facets of our business.”
After an Investment From JTB, Goodwings Joins FlexConnectSM
JTB solidified its commitment to responsible travel by participating in a $1.5 million investment in Goodwings in September. The strategic move places Goodwings at the heart of JTB’s recently launched Global Affiliate Partner Program and signals a shift toward sustainability in the business travel sector.
“Sustainability is no longer just an auxiliary concern in business travel. It’s now at the forefront of corporate decision-making,” said Geert de Boo. “With our investment in Goodwings, we’re driving change rather than passively observing it. This partnership allows JTB to further its dedication to responsible travel by introducing advanced solutions tailored to the evolving market needs.”
Business travel accounts for a significant portion of global GHG emissions, falling between 8% and 11%. Goodwings’ pioneering model addresses this by subsidizing the decarbonization of travel, thereby diminishing the industry’s carbon footprint. The platform offers a comprehensive suite of climate-focused features, ranging from emissions calculations to high-quality data for ESG reporting. With Goodwings joining FlexConnectSM, smaller enterprises enjoy unprecedented access to an effective and innovative carbon tracking and offsetting tool.
Christian Møller-Holst shared his enthusiasm about the collaboration: “The investment from JTB represents a strategic alliance. Together, we are well-positioned to cater to the growing demand for transparent and responsible travel solutions.”
JTB’s investment in Goodwings and the subsequent partnership under the FlexConnectSM banner showcases a new age of travel — one that is innovative, flexible, and sustainable.
The Partnership’s Significance for TMCs
The travel industry is in flux. As client expectations evolve, regulations change, and sustainability grows in importance, TMCs find themselves at a crossroads, searching for pathways that offer both stability and innovation.
JTB crafted FlexConnectSM to respond to today’s unique challenges. The Program offers TMCs the following:
1. Global Reach with a Local Touch
At its core, the Program offers TMCs a vast global fulfillment network focused on merging expansive reach with local expertise. It’s a powerful blend that ensures a seamless travel experience, regardless of the destination.
2. Amplified Supplier Relationships
JTB, with its global stature, has fostered strong ties within the travel industry. By joining FlexConnectSM, TMCs can harness JTB’s influential supplier relationships, presenting them with broader benefits and choices.
3. Technological Edge
In an age where technology steers decision-making, access to modern tools is indispensable. FlexConnectSM offers TMCs an array of cutting-edge technologies, including sustainability compliance, advanced risk management, travel tracking tools, and technological support.
4. Round-the-Clock Support
Travel is unpredictable. Recognizing this, FlexConnectSM ensures that TMCs have 24/7 emergency service support. No matter when an issue arises, we will address it promptly and proficiently.
5. Expertise on Tap
Negotiating in the travel space requires a unique blend of industry knowledge and tactical acumen. JTB offers its vast reservoir of expertise to TMCs, assisting them in supplier negotiations and consultations.
FlexConnectSM was also designed to offer a modular approach, allowing TMC partners to cherry-pick components that align with their unique business needs. And while large enterprises have traditionally enjoyed exclusive access to premium services, FlexConnectSM democratizes managed travel. The high-caliber services that were once available only to enterprises are now accessible to small- and mid-size TMCs — a testament to JTB’s unwavering commitment to this segment since its inception.
Goodwings’ addition to FlexConnectSM further enriches the benefits to TMCs. Their climate-centric platform brings a fresh sustainability angle, addressing the pressing need for responsible travel. For small- and mid-sized TMCs, this partnership represents an opportunity. They can now provide customers with robust sustainability-focused tools and technologies, elevating their service portfolio and making a tangible difference in travel.
“Joining FlexConnect is a monumental step for Goodwings,” said Christian Møller-Holst. “Together with JTB, we aim to make the travel landscape more conscious and sustainable. It’s heartening to see our solutions aligning with JTB’s expansive global network, enabling TMCs across the board to champion sustainable travel.”
“At JTB, we’ve always believed in the fusion of innovation with responsibility,” said Geert de Boo. “Welcoming Goodwings into FlexConnect reinforces this belief. Goodwings’ unparalleled approach to sustainability amplifies our commitment to TMCs, ensuring they’re equipped with the very best tools in the industry. Collaborations like these are the gold standard in business travel.”
Learn More About FlexConnectSM
Through the FlexConnectSM Global Affiliate Partner Program, JTB has created an ecosystem where TMCs can access an expansive global network, technological prowess, and deep-rooted industry relationships. The benefits of FlexConnectSM are now available to TMCs of any size that want to secure their places in the future of the business travel landscape.
Contact us now to learn more about what FlexConnectSM can do for your business.