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American Express taps Airbnb for mobile-optimized checkout integration

American Express and rental marketplace Airbnb have joined forces for a technology integration that allows card holders to use rewards points to book accommodations and pay directly on Airbnb via Amex Express checkout.

United States-based American Express members will be able to traverse Airbnb’s desktop or mobile sites and seamlessly book travel accommodations, some of which may be paid for with the financial company’s rewards points. Eligible users can also complete transactions with Amex Express Checkout in several clicks or less, making the booking process on mobile as painless as possible.

“American Express is always looking for new ways to deliver our card members more value, choice and flexibility with how and where they use our Amex offerings,” said Brad Minor, head of 360 communications at American Express, New York. “We know that our card members have an affinity for travel and that they want to see the world on their terms and this partnership truly enables them to experience travel in a completely new way with Amex and Airbnb.

“This is the first of its kind – we are embedding Amex into the Airbnb experience from sign-up to checking out,” he said. “Our card members love Airbnb and the growth of new users and bookings is skyrocketing.

“The partnership is significant for us and Airbnb.”

Curating relevant cross-partnerships
American Express is aiming to create memorable travel experiences via this partnership, which comes on the heels of a fruitful year for Airbnb. The company recently rolled out its premier Apple Watch application after realizing that a messaging-focused app best delivered an on-the-go, lightweight experience that fits the wearable use case (see story).

American Express customers are now able to create a new Airbnb account by inputting their existing user identification and password, thereby removing the time needed to think of a new username and save all personal information. The sheer ease of using an existing log-in may help fuel an uptick in impulse bookings as well.

Eligible consumers may use their membership reward points to receive discounts on select bookings, and can also tap the Amex Express Checkout feature to quickly complete a payment on mobile.

“This is the next iteration of Amex Express Checkout and the power of the Amex log-in for online identity and more,” Mr. Minor said. “Also, we know our card members love using their membership rewards points for travel – and we are thrilled to be integrated directly into the Airbnb checkout process to allow our card members to seamlessly use points for all or part of their bookings.”

Individuals can click the “Sign Up with Amex” button on Airbnb’s site to begin the accommodation booking process. After entering their user ID, American Express will automatically fill in the remaining required fields with payment details.

The user will then receive a badge on his or her profile, identifying him or her as an American Express card holder.

This badge will also indicate which Airbnb hosts are American Express card members, allowing users to create a digital community.

Soaring through checkout
Consumers with no American Express card on hand can still complete their transactions via Amex Express Checkout by selecting it from the dropdown menu and entering their Amex login. The partnership is kicking off with a special promotion for guests, offering eligible members $50 back when they spend more than $100 on an Airbnb platform through the end of this year.

Additionally, individuals who are rewards members can use their points balance to book properties on Airbnb by adding their eligible American Express card during checkout and entering the dollar amount in points that they wish to apply to the purchase. This way, points can be used to pay for the entire booking, or simply a portion of it.

Offering a streamlined payment process on mobile has been a large focus for the financial brand this year.

Recently, American Express announced it is enabling its corporate card holders to pay with their smartphones while on-the-go via a new partnership with Apple Pay, highlighting how the payment platform continues to gain steam in the financial sector (see story).

“We also know our card members love browsing and booking trips from their mobile devices,” Mr. Minor said. “We created all aspects of this first-of-its-kind tech integration with Airbnb to be mobile-optimized, which enables our card members to more quickly and seamlessly sign up for Airbnb and book stays from their favorite devices.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York