The last few years in corporate travel have been replete with travel management companies that have nominally been focused on service claiming to shift towards a technology-first strategy.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel, one of the biggest travel management companies in the world, has changed its name to CWT to move away from its roots toward a digital future. Many already called the company CWT for short, and its divisions like CWT Meetings & Events and CWT Solutions Group have used the CWT tag for years.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel was founded in 1994 in a partnership between Carlson and France’s Wagonlit Travel, which was owned by Accor. Accor sold off its share in the company in 2006.
“This identity change is the latest phase in our digital development plan to combine the power of technology and innovation with the expert know-how of our people,” said CWT president and CEO Kurt Ekert in a statement. “There’s a romantic link with the Wagons-Lit era, and we are justifiably proud of our 150 year-heritage – however, today’s developments reinforce our intention to continue to lead our industry for the next century and a half.”
CWT still doesn’t own CWT.com, though.
It’s interesting that the statement doesn’t mention the erosion of the Carlson brand in the global travel marketplace.
Earlier this decade, Carlson Hotels represented one of the world’s biggest hotel chains. After acquiring a majority stake in Rezidor in 2010, Carlson Hotels sold off its combined holdings in the hotel sector to HNA Group in 2016. HNA Group turned around and sold off the Carlson assets to Jin Jiang International Holdings last year, which had been renamed as Radisson Hotel Group, in an effort to ease its massive debt load.
So while there are still Carlson hotels out there, the brand likely has limited value moving forward. Carlson, though, has fully owned CWT since 2014.
No corporate rebranding would be complete without a video featuring buzzwords flashed on screen accompanied by a generic minute of corporate-speak from Ekert, of course.