American Express has acquired the airport lounge “Pay Per Per Visit” provider and review site Loungebuddy that has already supported the Amex Lounge Finder Application for quite some time.
Amex currently issues Priority Pass to their Platinum Card members as well as provides access to lounges to Centurion Lounges and the American Express Lounge Collection.
There has been some speculation of what Amex is actually planning to do with Loungebuddy because the system has so far been useful for those individuals who just wanted to purchase a lounge access without being enrolled in a permanent membership.
American Express has announced the acquisition through their press portal (access here).
American Express today announced it will acquire LoungeBuddy, a digital platform that enables travelers to discover, book and access airport lounges worldwide. Founded in 2013, LoungeBuddy’s mobile app and website (www.loungebuddy.com) provide a premium airport experience with robust lounge ratings and reviews, comprehensive eligibility criteria, and global airport coverage through its lounge partners. The acquisition is expected to be completed in April 2019.
“The expansive airport lounge access we offer our premium Card Members through the Global Lounge Collection is among the most popular travel benefits we offer, which is why we continue to invest in enhancing the lounge access and services we provide,” said Chris Cracchiolo, Senior Vice President, Global Loyalty and Benefits, American Express. “With the acquisition of LoungeBuddy, we will be able to leverage its cutting-edge platform to develop additional ways to become an essential part of our Card Members’ digital lives.”
American Express has been partnering with LoungeBuddy since 2017 to provide information in the American Express mobile app for the more than 1,200 airport lounges that Platinum Card and Centurion Members can access through the American Express Global Lounge Collection. …
After the acquisition, LoungeBuddy will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Express under the leadership of its original founders and will continue to develop its technologies and capabilities in digital travel services.
This press release doesn’t reveal any plan to implement any benefits of functionality into the Amex card member portfolio. It’s a bit of a strange combination because the business model of Loungebuddy is a pay per use system.
Of course since Amex used the data provided by Loungebuddy for two years already and there was certainly some fee involved in order to mirror the data on the Amex App and website for lounge information:
The nice thing about Loungebuddy is that it includes reviews by users, displays all lounges available at the airport and for those who don’t have any card or membership the option to purchase a single use lounge pass at a flexible price.
It’s possible that Amex eventually thought it’s better to own the original source of it’s data outright instead of paying them maintenance fees, paired with the danger that the cooperation could end one day and they would lose the access to the lounge data.
Would Loungebuddy introduce a system like Priority Pass – a flat membership option with unlimited visits to all lounges – I could see Amex considering a change from PP to their own in-house solution. At this point that’s not an option but it might be in the future. Amex could also provide discounts for other card members, not only those with the Platinum/Centurion version.