Unicef travel booking has come a long way since its early years when the entire process was done manually and flights were selected from a mammoth guidebook. Most recently, Unicef selected American Express Business Travel, the world’s largest travel management company, to launch the agency’s new online booking system – the first online travel tool used by the United Nations.

“We’re in a digital world and UNICEF is committed to leveraging technology to increase efficiencies and ensure good stewardship of the public’s funds,” said Nicholas Lannana, chief of UNICEF’s travel and transportation unit. “This is a chance for Unicef to enter a whole new age and for our travelers to take greater ownership for their itineraries and travel plans.”

Unicef’s travel program includes thousands of travelers, many hundreds of commonly traveled city pairs, and seven times more airline contracts than the average private corporation. Of Unicef’s 12,000 staff members, a quarter average four to five stops on every trip, which often include stays in different continents.

“Considering the complexity of their travel program, their outsized number of preferred suppliers, and the thousands of trips their travelers book annually UNICEF is truly in the vanguard of the public sector in terms of adopting and implementing online travel,” said Herve Sedky, vice president and general manager, Multinational Client Group, American Express Business Travel.

With the new online travel system, American Express Online, Unicef anticipates the agency will save its travelers an average of thirty minutes of total processing time for each transaction. Furthermore, Unicef expects that online bookings will improve overall travel program compliance, allowing the agency to enjoy increased benefits from new or existing supplier relationships. The rollout of the new online system will begin with Unicef’s New York office, with plans to expand to the agency’s eight regional offices and 160 additional locations around the world, from Europe and West Africa to the Middle East and Asia.

“After a competitive bidding process, we chose American Express Business Travel because they have the proven travel platforms to manage hugely complex travel programs like ours, both online and offline,” added Lannana.