Blended travel has caught the eye of these two established companies. The resulting formation could well serve this new market.
InteleTravel acquired corporate travel consortium Hickory Global Partners, a firm nod to the rise of blended travel as employees increasingly blur the lines between vacations with business trips.
InteleTravel, which has a network of 90,000 independent home-based advisors across the U.S., UK, Caribbean, Mexico and Republic of Ireland, wants to create the “consortium of the future,” according its president James Ferrara.
InteleTravel claims it is the largest retailer for many leading cruise and tour operator/wholesaler vacation brands in the U.S., and was ranked 24 in Travel Weekly’s Power List last year, with sales of $300 million in 2021.
Hickory Global Partners is an alliance of corporate travel agencies, corporate travel departments and corporations.
“With the new blending of leisure and business travel, the idea of separate consortia for these markets is now outdated,” Ferrara said in a statement on Tuesday. “This merger creates a single source of advantages and support for all travelers and the professionals who serve them — the consortium of the future.”
Americans spent $17.4 billion traveling abroad in February, a record for the U.S., according to the National Travel and Tourism Office.
Hickory will continue operating as its own brand as a wholly owned unit of InteleTravel, and the deal is expected to create 100 new jobs over the course of the integration, and with the development of new programs. Financial details were not disclosed.
InteleTravel said the acquisition also allows both companies to optimize leisure and business travel resources by combining purchasing and negotiating power, talent and technology.
Hickory equally stands to gain from having a network of consultants who can pick up the phone to deal with frequent business travelers’ calls and complaints. Last year, Australia’s CTM bought 1000 Mile Travel Group, a network of independent travel experts, to boost its customer service offering.
Hickory President Chris Dane will focus on emerging market opportunities and initiatives, including a version of the its Hickory 365 staffing solution which will provide leisure fulfillment for Hickory members, and a new Hickory business travel education and certification program for InteleTravel advisors.
“Merging leisure and corporate travel businesses at a time when travel is booming and the lines for both sectors are becoming more blurred positions us for greater growth and benefits for our members, advisors and preferred suppliers,” said Dane.
“We have a vision for a consortium that leads into the next decades with a modern view of business and leisure travelers, and advantages, technology, and supply for our members to satisfy those needs. InteleTravel’s resources and reach will help us do that,” he added.
Hickory also plans to expand InteleTravel advisor’s earning opportunities with business travel-focused education, negotiated travel products and services through Hickory’s air portfolio, preferred hotel and amenities programs, expense management tools, and ancillary supplier partnerships.
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