Skift Take

It's pretty clear there's a lot of consolidation going on in the travel management space, and there are no signs of that changing. With BCD's most recent investment, the company is in a good position to start planning future acquisitions in the Asia-Pacific region.

The key players in the travel management world only continue to get bigger, often relying on acquisitions of mid-size companies to expand deeper into global markets.

Now, Netherlands-based BCD Travel has taken majority ownership of Hitachi Travel Bureau, one of Japan’s top travel agencies, the company announced Monday. Meanwhile, Brisbane, Australia-based Flight Centre Travel Group has bought majority stake in 3Mundi, a corporate travel business which operates in France and Switzerland, expanding its footprint in the European market. Neither company revealed the dollar amount of the investments.

The Hitachi Travel Bureau has offices in Japan and China, and annual sales of roughly $330 million, according to the company. Japan is one of the leading economies in Asia-Pacific, making it a strategic jumping off point when expanding into the region.

“Our majority ownership of Japan demonstrates our aggressive acquisition strategy,” said John Snyder, president and CEO of BCD Travel, in a press release. “We’re growing in markets where demand for corporate travel services is increasing and where our clients want us to be. This acquisition opens up new business opportunities for us in one of the world’s most unique travel markets.”

The current president of the Hitachi Travel Bureau, Kazuhiko Otani, will remain in his role and will be responsible for leading growth in the Japan market.

Flight Centre has worked with 3Mundi since 2015. It announced Monday it had increased its stake in the company from 25 percent to 100 percent, solidifying its position as one of the travel management companies with the widest global presence.

Ongoing Consolidation

This comes only a week after American Express Global Business Travel announced plans to acquire German corporate travel company DER Business Travel, increasing its footprint in the German mid-size market. Last year, the company acquired UK-based travel management company Hogg Robinson, another major player in the European market.

Similarly, BCD Travel has spent the past several years investing in a variety of small and mid-size companies all over the globe, in the travel management space as well as in travel tech, tours, and events.

This includes US-based travel agent company Acendas Travel, which BCD became majority stakeholder of in 2017, and European meetings and events agency Zibrant, which the company acquired in 2016. BCD also has majority stake or full ownership in travel operations in Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Poland, and Colombia, according to the company.

Flight Centre has been especially active, making multiple acquisitions just in the past two years.

It acquired a 25 percent stake in Upside in April, a travel startup based out of Washington, DC, becoming the largest individual shareholder, a deal which gives Flight Centre access to the startup’s AI and machine learning operations.

In March, it increased investment in 30SecondsToFly and acquired travel chatbot Sam, and it bought Silicon Valley-based Casto Travel in December.


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Tags: american express global business travel, bcd travel, flight centre

Photo credit: High-speed rail in Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo Form / Flickr

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