Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Business Travel

Flight Centre Appoints New Lead For U.S. Corporate Traveler Division

9 months ago

Flight Centre Travel Group has appointed John van den Heuvel as president of its Corporate Traveler USA Division, as the company places significant focus on growth in the region.

Van den Heuvel will lead the company’s newly opened Corporate Traveler’s headquarters in Bryant Park.

Before his appointment, Van den Heuvel was president of the group’s GOGO Vacations, overseeing its redesign as a digital-first seller of wholesale travel products, according to a Flight Centre statement.
He started his travel career with the Flight Centre Travel Group 21 years ago and initially joined the Corporate Traveler brand in 2008 before transitioning to the president of GOGO Vacations in 2015.

Flight Centre’s corporate division, including FCM and Corporate Traveler brands, reported $7 billion in sales for the fiscal year ending June 30, surpassing pre-Covid levels by 24%, and its leisure travel segment’s $6.4 billion in sales during the same timeframe.

Business Travel

Corporate Booking Platform CDS Groupe Acquires Germany’s Corporate Rates Club

9 months ago

CDS Groupe, a hotel booking platform for business travel, is expanding into the German market through an acquisition. 

The France-based company said this week that it has acquired Corporate Rates Club, the business travel segment of TourisMarketing Service GmbH. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Corporate Rates Club will continue to operate independently with its full staff,  CDS Groupe said. The CRC tool is available through a customized online booking portal or through integrating its hotel offerings into a third-party online booking engine. 

The deal is part of what CDS Groupe says is a plan for international growth.

The company in 2022 acquired Rydoo Travel, an online booking tool, from Marlin Equity. 

The combined company said it completes about €800 million annually in hotel bookings on behalf of its clients, which include corporations and business travel agents. The acquisitions have also allowed the buyer to expand its portfolio of contracts with hotels. 

The company now has 300 employees in France, Italy, Poland, Germany and Croatia.

CDS Groupe was founded in 2001 and is managed by founding shareholder Ziad Minkara.

Business Travel

Clarity Travel to Buy Corporate Travel Businesses Agiito and Evolvi

10 months ago

Clarity Business Travel, a corporate travel agency based in the UK, plans to purchase two corporate travel businesses for £36.5 million ($46 million).

Capita, a publicly traded business IT company based in London, said Thursday that it plans to sell subsidiaries Agiito and Evolvi, pending regulatory approvals. 

Agiito is a management agency for corporate travel, meetings, and events. Evovli is a rail booking tool for travel management companies.

Clarity is the business travel and events division of the Portman Travel Group.

Clarity is expected to pay Capita £8 million ($10.2 million) in cash upon completion of the transaction, plus another £8 million 12 months later. Clarity is assuming working capital and debt liabilities, which makes up the difference between the sales value and the cash payments. 

The senior management teams and employees of Agiito and Evovli will remain as the companies transfer to the buyer, according to Capita. 

Revenue in 2022 for the two companies being sold was £31 million ($39.4 million), and profit before tax was £4 million ($5.1 million), according to Capita. Gross assets are valued at £76 million ($96.5 million).

Travel Technology

Travelport Integrates Corporate Booking Tool Following Deem Acquisition

11 months ago

Travelport has completed the integration of corporate booking tool Deem, which it acquired earlier this year

Travelport — along with its two larger competitors, public companies Amadeus and Sabre — primarily act as marketplaces to connect airlines and travel agents. 

While Amadeus and Sabre have had in-house corporate travel booking tools in recent years, Travelport has not since it sold Locomote in 2019.

The Deem tool is now part of Travelport+, the next generation of the booking platform for travel agents that Travelport has been developing over the past two years. And agencies that had been using Deem can now access Travelport data through the platform, which is still also compatible with data from Amadeus and Sabre.

The software from Deem is meant to provide travel agents a simpler, more modern experience than has been historically available for corporate travel. And the software includes a tool that travelers can use to manage their own trips. 

“It extends the vision that we set for Travelport back in 2019 or early 2020, which was we wanted to create a more modern retailing experience that was more akin to what leisure travelers might experience,” said John Elieson, chief operating officer and deputy CEO of Travelport.

“You go to a site like Travelocity or Expedia or Priceline, and you’ve just got this really intuitive, enjoyable experience. And yet in corporate travel, it’s just much clunkier.”

Travelport CEO Greg Webb said early this year that more than 80% of the company’s travel agent customers were using Travelport+ at that time, and the rest were expected to transition in the following 12 to 18 months.

Business Travel

Medius Acquires Corporate Expense Management Startup Expensya

11 months ago

Expensya, the corporate expense management startup, has been acquired. 

The Tunisia-based company said Tuesday that the deal is now complete with buyer Medius, the New York-based provider of accounts payable automation software. 

Terms were not disclosed. 

Medius’s software primarily deals with invoices, processing, and payments. The Expensya software automates the processing of employee expenses. 

Medius said it completed the acquisition to give its clients a more complete set of services, and the deal also expands the buyer’s clients base into new regions.

Medius said it has more than 4,000 customers in 102 countries. Expensya has more than 6,000 clients in 100 countries, with a workforce of 200 employees. 

“Expensya’s AI capabilities, employee spend management solution, and payment cards, with Medius’s AP automation platform, means we can now cover the whole indirect spend of companies and can apply the power of AI to help finance teams to optimize cost and processes across the board,” said Karim Jouini, CEO of Expensya, in a statement. 

Expensya had raised a total of $25.6 million over four funding rounds, according to Crunchbase. The most recent raises were a $20 million series B round in 2021 and $4.5 million in 2018.

Business Travel

Navan Moves Beyond Its Own Smart Card in Link-Up With Visa and Mastercard

1 year ago

Navan, the corporate travel agency previously called TripActions, rolled out a feature that enables companies to retain the benefits of their Visa and Mastercard corporate cards and still gain access to Navan’s automated expense management features.

Source: Navan

The new patent-pending feature, Navan Connect, saves enterprise clients and smaller companies, if applicable, from having to transition away from their corporate cards and their benefits to access Navan’s expense management features, the company said. “With the swipe of an enrolled card, expenses are automatically checked against company policy, categorized, and reconciled,” Navan states.

Previously, clients had to use a Navan Card to gain access to these features, launched three years ago, and this may have been a roadblock to Navan signing up more enterprise accounts. 

“With Navan Connect, we’re expanding this convenience and efficiency to the corporate cardsthat our customers prefer, harmonizing personal choice with corporate needs,” said Navan co-founder and CEO Ariel Cohen in a statement. “It’s not just a product; it’s our pledge to simplify expense management while enhancing flexibility and control for businesses.”

Navan stated it intends to add other corporate cards to Navan Connect.

 

Business Travel

Avianca Launches Subscription Program Just For Business Travelers

1 year ago

South America’s Avianca has rolled out a subscription program just for businesses.

The Colombian airline has partnered with Caravelo, a company that builds subscription platforms for airlines. The new program follows a similar tie-up it announced with Europe’s Wizz Air earlier this month.

Avianca Access differs, however, as it’s targeting corporate travelers only, who gain access to potentially cheaper travel without their employers having to commit to an annual quota.

There are four schemes: Access 10, for 1 to 10 travelers, which costs $10 a month or $96 a year; Access 25, for 11 to 25 travelers (at $25 a month); Access 50, for 26 to 50 travelers ($50 a month); and Access 100, for 51 to 100 travelers ($100 month.)

Employees can make unlimited date or hour changes without any penalty.

“I am happy to confirm that business-to-business-travel subscriptions are now a reality, and we have worked with Avianca to create the world’s first airline subscription program aimed at small and medium enterprises,” said Inaki Uriz, CEO of Caravelo.

The company added it had not yet been publicly launched by the airline, but has been operational since November 2022.

A public launch is expected later this year.

Avianca is currently looking to merge with Viva Air.

Business Travel

Lyft Names Former Amazon Exec as Its New CEO

1 year ago

Ride-sharing firm Lyft has appointed David Risher, a former Amazon and Microsoft senior exec, as its new CEO.

Lyft’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer are stepping down from their respective roles as CEO and president, and moving into non-executive roles, the company revealed on Tuesday.

Risher was employee number 37 at Amazon, and was the retailing giant’s first head of product and head of U.S. retail. He was also a general manager at Microsoft. He has been a member of Lyft’s board of directors since July 2021.

Lyft’s business division recently reported that managed bookings have grown 60 percent year-over-year, following the return of large events and conferences. For the 2022 fourth quarter it posted revenue of $1.2 billion, 21 percent up on the same quarter in 2021.

Ride-sharing and car-pooling are expected to increase this year after the pandemic all but wiped out the concept. Now as more companies look to cut carbon emissions, car-pooling is seen as effective way to travel more sustainably. Rival BlaBlaCar last month announced it was buying Klaxit to further expand.

“Logan and I were told we were crazy to think people would share a ride in another person’s car,” said Lyft’s Zimmer. “Over a decade later, Lyft is creating economic opportunity, building a sustainable future, and helping people make meaningful connections — with the support of millions of riders and drivers. I can’t wait for what’s next, and look forward to working with our deeply-capable successor, David, to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation.”

Meanwhile, Hertz’s chief financial officer effective Kenny Cheung is leaving the company. He will be replaced by chief accounting officer Alexandra Brooks on an interim basis, the company said on Tuesday.

Airlines

American Airlines Begins Layoffs in Corporate Travel Department

1 year ago

American Airlines’ restructuring of its global sales team will involve the departure of three experienced senior leaders, Skift has learned.

The reorganization impacts its U.S operations and includes a number of layoffs. Other global regions are set to follow, with the cuts coming just weeks ahead of its move to shift more of its airfares to direct retail channels, including its own website.

“… I want to let you know that we are going to be a more streamlined sales team going forward, doing much more focused and deliberate work in areas where customers need us, and operating with greater efficiency and effectiveness,” wrote Thomas Rajan, vice president of global sales, in an internal memo viewed by Skift.

According to the communication, three leaders will “transition out of their roles” due to the new structure. They are Michael Albers, interim managing director, central and southwest divisions and Canada; Louis de Joux, managing director, leisure and OTA; and Shane Hodges, managing director, sales Western division and Asia Pacific.

Jim Carter, the airline’s managing director of the Eastern Division, announced his retirement last week. In January this year, American Airlines announced chief customer officer Alison Taylor was retiring.

The memo said the airline would look at the “subsequent layers of the domestic sales organization to align with our new world of work and structure.”

Rajan wrote: “To be upfront with you, that will mean reductions across the team.” Regions including Asia Pacific, and Europe, Middle East and Africa, will also be affected.

“We’re continuously evaluating how best to serve our customers’ evolving preferences. For example, a big portion of them have shown us they want to interact directly with American. Others have needs to interact with us through intermediaries,” the memo, which was dated Feb. 16, added.

American Airlines told Skift that it emailed its corporate partners on Feb. 16,  announcing it was reorganizing its North American-based sales team “to give us the ability to more quickly adapt to this evolving marketplace. This structure also allows us to deliver simpler solutions to intermediaries as well as provide a heightened focus for our customers’ entire travel ecosystem.”

Its email added: “As a result of these changes, we’re also evaluating our account management structure and will have more information to share in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please continue to partner with your dedicated account manager.”

Business Travel

Blueground Buys Corp Housing Provider Travelers Haven to Expand In U.S.

1 year ago

Greek startup Blueground has bought corporate housing specialist Travelers Haven to grow its footprint across the U.S.

Denver-based Travelers Haven sources apartments on-demand through its software and a network of vendors, giving it access to up to 20,000 U.S. cities.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Travelers Haven reported $100 million of revenue in 2022.

Blueground focuses on urban centers, with apartments in 11 cities in the U.S. and 19 cities internationally. It said the combined organization will employ 1,200 people, and is expected to reach over $600 million in revenue in 2023.

Traveler’s Haven currently employs 100 people. “Nobody will be laid off following the acquisition, and their day-to-day work will not change as a result as the two companies will continue to operate independently for the near future,” a spokesperson said.

This acquisition is also expected to add more clients to Blueground for Business, its corporate service division for human resource and travel managers.