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Lola Ceases Operations, Touts ‘Next Phase’

Small-and-midsize-enterprise-focused travel management provider Lola has shuttered its services, according to a notice on its website citing “new things to come” for the company, which less than three years ago made a major splash by inking an exclusive partnership with American Express Global Business Travel. 

With Lola ceasing operations, at least for now, its corporate clients have been transitioned to Amex GBT’s Neo1 SME-centric travel and expense spend management platform, according to GBT. Originally launched in the United Kingdom last year, Neo1 expanded to the U.S. in July. 

In a jointly signed notice on Lola’s website, company CEO Mike Volpe and CTO Paul English touted “exciting news about the next phase” for the company but provided no details as to those future plans. Lola did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Launched in 2016 by Kayak co-founder English, Lola garnered significant attention in its early years, racking up more than $80 million in investment funding along with the landmark 2018 Amex GBT tie-up. But the company was hit hard by the shutdown of corporate travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic, announcing in March 2020 that it would lay off 34 employees—nearly one-third of its workforce. 

In a bid to diversify its offerings amid the slowdown in travel, Lola in October 2020 rolled out a new corporate spending and expense management tool dubbed Lola Spend, which was built on the same platform as its travel management product, but could operate on a standalone basis. 

The shutdown of Lola comes less than a month after another onetime darling of the SME and lightly managed corporate travel segment, Upside Business Travel, also met its demise, citing the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

But as SME-focused travel management startups face challenges stemming from the pandemic, established TMCs remain eager to serve that segment. Amex GBT in particular has been keenly focused on growing its SME business, citing that goal as a key driver of its planned acquisition of Egencia, along with the expansion of the Neo1 platform to the United States. 

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