BCD Travel on Friday acquired Knoxville, Tenn.,-based World Travel Service Inc., which the companies said is the 13th-largest U.S. corporate travel agency. BCD Travel CEO John Snyder said the market can expect the company to make “many” more corporate travel and meetings deals this year and next.
Addressing rumors of consolidation discussions between the largest travel management companies, Snyder also said that if anything happens BCD Group will be a buyer not a seller.
With World Travel Service, BCD is targeting the small and medium market, which WTS president Lamar Shuler said is “strong right now.”
“A big part of our SME strategy is and will continue to be the affiliate network,” said Snyder. “We have the strongest affiliate network in the country and if one of them wants to sell we want to be a part of that discussion.”
A BCD Travel affiliate since 2002, World Travel has more than 100 people and processes annual travel sales of more than $330 million. Shuler will remain president of World Travel Service; the entity would operate with its own brand as a business unit of BCD Travel.
On the largest end of the market, Snyder said “if there is consolidation, we will be the acquirer and not the acquired.” An investment firm related to BCD Group owns about 24 percent of Hogg Robinson Group. Last year, a consortium of investors bought half of American Express Global Business Travel and Carlson Companies acquired full ownership in Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Investors behind Direct Travel have been active of late. Expedia is aiming to acquire Orbitz, which would bring along with it Orbitz for Business.
“There’s reasonably high activity,” said Snyder when asked about travel management mergers and acquisitions in general. “There are a lot of people wanting to deploy investment dollars and it’s a positive that they see our industry as a good opportunity.”
CWT CEO Doug Anderson told Skift he “wouldn’t be shocked to see more consolidation at the mega TMC level … in the near to medium term.”
The goal of M&A among TMCs in some cases is to increase clout with suppliers or footprint for clients. But while Snyder said scale is important, he explained that “we would never do a deal just to drive it. Our driver is to grow with solid businesses that add to our top and bottom line and our overall offering. We look for a solid cultural fit and customer-first approach that values employees.”
The principles expect no leadership changes as a result of the BCD-WTS deal, and they said cost savings are not a major component.