One of the most referred-to lists in the U.S. travel and tourism industry is Travel Weekly’s “Power List” of travel agencies. The publication recently released its 2016 edition, and the Inbound Report has highlighted the trends noted in the new list, adding a perspective or two of our own. From the report:
—It had seemed likely that we might see a change at the top of the Power List this year as a result of Priceline Group’s momentum in the last few years. Moreover, in last year’s ranking the top two were practically neck and neck, with Expedia Inc. at $50.4 billion in annual travel sales and Priceline at $50.3 billion.
—Expedia has maintained its position at No.1, partly through aggressive expansion, such as the takeover of Travelocity and Orbitz Worldwide (No. 7 last year.). In the 2015 Power List, the top two were practically neck and neck, with Expedia Inc. at $50.4 billion in annual travel sales and Priceline at $50.3 billion.
—There were 21 on the list—the same number as last year—reporting sales of more than $1 billion. The top five agencies in the Power List collectively realized nearly $200 billion in travel sales in 2015.
—Acquisitions were part of the continuing consolidation in the industry that results in the departure of some names even as new agencies joined. World Travel Service (No. 34 last year), was acquired by No. 5 BCD Travel. Teplis Frosch, which last year was No. 56, has been totally absorbed by No. 17, Frosch. (A longtime member of the list, Montrose Travel, was acquired by Corporate Travel Management, but since the deal was not completed until Jan 1, 2016, the two retain their separate rankings on this year’s list at No. 41 and No. 42, respectively.
—There was even a rare instance of a company that split, with both resulting enterprises on the list: American Express Global Business Travel, at No. 3, and American Express Travel, at No. 8.
—The New York City Metropolitan Area leads all other regions in the USA with 10 agencies on the Power List.
—The blurring of the line between B2B, B2C, inbound and outbound is underscored by the prominence of three major U.S.-based agencies of large Japanese companies on the list: JTB Americas (No. 19); H.I.S. USA (No. 31); and Kintetsu International Express (No. 44).
—There has been a strengthening of host agencies (companies that serve as the “host” for contractors—usually home-based agents), even if some companies don’t like the term, “host agency.” Travel Planners International, for example, prefers the term “collection of specialists.” Among those on the list with high percentages of hosting were Travel Leaders Group (No. 9), Travizon (No. 26), Avoya Travel (No. 35), Cruise Planners (No. 36), Travel Experts (No. 38), Travel Planners International (No. 42), Uniglobe Travel Partners (No. 43), OutsideAgents.com (No. 54), Global Travel International (55), and KHM Travel Group (No. 58).
—Another trend revealed in the list was globalization, either through opening offices abroad or by affiliating with global companies. At the same time, family-owned agencies continue to maintain a strong position, such as Valerie Wilson Travel (No. 33), Balboa Travel (No. 45), Frosch (No. 17), Avoya (No. 35) and Cain (No. 57).
—It’s not only No. 1 and No. 2 that specialize in leisure travel. A number of leisure-dominant agencies continue to thrive as customers increasingly turn to agents.
—In addition, meetings and incentives seem to have finally returned in force. On the other hand, some agencies reported they were already seeing a slowing in corporate travel this year.
Travel Weekly’s 2016 Power List
Name of Company & Website Corporate Headquarters 2015 Sales
A1. Expedia Bellevue, Wash. $60.8 billion
www.expediainc.com 2. Priceline Group Norwalk, Conn. $55.5 billion
www.pricelinegroup.com 3. American Express Global Business Travel Jersey City, N.J. $30 billion
www.amexglobalbusibesstravel.com 4. Carlson Wagonlit Travel Minneapolis, Minn. $24.2billion
www.carlsonwagonlit.com 5. BCD Travel Utrecht, Netherlands $23.8 billion
www.bcdtravel.com 6. HRG North America New York, N.Y. $16 billion
www.hrgworldwide.com 7. FC USA Ramsey, N.J. $13.4 billion
www.us.fcm.travel 8. American Express Travel New York, N.Y. $5.1 billion
www.amextravel.com 9. Travel Leaders Group Plymouth, Minn. $4.32 billion
www.travelleadeersgroup.com 10. Fareportal New York, N.Y. $4.1 billion
www.fareportal.com 11. AAA Travel Heathrow, Fla. $3.8 billion
www.aaa.com 12. Corporate Travel Management Brisbane, Australia $2.88 billion
www.travelctm.com 13. Travel and Transport Omaha, Neb, $2.8 billion
www.travelandtransport.com !4. Altour New York, N.W. $2.51 billion
www.altour.com 15. Direct Travel Centennial, Colo. $1.54 billion
www.dt.com 16. World Travel Exton, Pa. $1.45 billion
www.worldtravelinc.com 17. Omega World Travel (tie) Fairfax, Va. $1.35 billion
www.omegatravel.com 17. Frosch (tie) Houston, Texas $1.35 billion
www.frosch.com 19. JTB Americas Torrance, Calif. $1.33 billion
www.jtbamericas.com 20. Ovation Travel Group New York, N.Y. $1.12 billion
www.ovationtravel.com 21. World Travel Holdings Wilmington, Mass. $1.01 billion
www.worldtravelholdings.com 22. ATG New Albany, Ohio $820.1 million
www.atg.travel e 23. International Cruise & Excursions (ICE) Scottsdale, Ariz. $704 million
www.iceenterprise.com 24. Vision Travel Toronto, Ont. $675 million
www.visiontravelca.com 25. Adelman Travel Group Milwaukee, Wis. $656.9 million
www.adelmantravel.com 26. Travizon Woburn, Mass. $601 million
www.travizon.com 27. Christopherson Andavo Travel Salt Lake City, Utah $552 million
www.cbtravel.com 28. CheapCaribbean.com Addison, Texas $540 million
www.cheapcaribbean.com 29. Worldview Travel Santa Ana, Calif. $470 million
www.worldviewtravel.com 30. CorpTrav Management Group Lombard, Ill. $461 million
www.corptrav.com 31. H.I.S. USA New York, N.Y. $399 million
www.his-usa.com 32. Travel Store Los Angeles, Calif. $394.4 million
www.businesstravelstore.com 33. Valerie Wilson Travel New York, N.Y. $377 million
www.valeriewilsontravel.com 34. Fox World Travel Oshkosh, Wis. $362.6 million
www.foxworldtravel.com 35. Avoya Travel Fort Lauderdale, Fla. $350 million
www.avoyatravel.com 36. Cruise Planners, an American Express Representative Coral Springs, Fla. $340 million
www.cruiseplanners.com 37. Professional Travel Cleveland, Ohio $336.7 million
www.protrav.com 38. Travel Experts Raleigh, N.C $325.6 million
www.travel-xperts.com 39. Shorts Travel Management Waterloo, Iowa $318 million
www.shortstravel.com 40. Global Crew Logistics Miami Beach, Fla. $310.8 million
www.globalcrewlogistics.com 41. Montrose Travel Montrose, Calif. $301.5 million
www.montrosetravel.com 42. Travel Planners International Maitland, Fla. $258 million
www.travelplannersinternational.com 43. Uniglobe Travel Partners Mount Arlington, N.J. $247.8 million
www.uniglobetravelpartners.com 44. Kintetsu International Express New York, N.Y. $244 million
www.kintetsu.com 45. Balboa Travel San Diego, Calif. $235.3 million
www.balboa.com 46. Atlas Travel & Technology Group Milford, Mass. $228 million
www.atlastravel.com 47. CI Azumano Travel Virginia Beach, Va. $211 million
www.ciazumano.com 48. The Appointment Group Los Angeles, Calif. $210 million
www.appointmentgroup.com 49. Gant Travel Management Bloomington, Ind. $191 million
www.ganttravel.com 50. Travelink, American Express Travel (www.travelink.com) Nashville, Tenn. $173.5 million
51. Amtrav Calabasa, Calif. $166.1 million
www.amtrav.com 52. Conlin Travel Ann Arbor, Mich. $140.1 million
www.conlintravel.com 53. Creative Lodging Solutions Lexington, Ky. $137.40
www.yourcls.com 54. Outsideagents.com Jacksonville, Fla. $134.6 million
www.outsideagents.com 55. Global Travel International Maitland, Fla. $129 million
www.globaltravel.com 56. Crucon Cruise Outlet Plus Moultonborough, N.H. $127.6 million
www.crucon.com 57. Cain Travel Boulder, Colo. $122 million
www.caintravel.com 58. KHM Travel Group Brunswick, Ohio $115 million
Methodology: The Power List 2016 questionnaire was sent earlier in 2016 to roughly 70 companies that had appeared on the list in previous years, had been in the news because of growth via acquisitions or other reasons or had contacted Travel Weekly believing that they qualified. To qualify for the list, a company had to have a minimum of $100 million in sales in 2015.
For purposes of the survey, sales are defined as gross sales of travel products worldwide, whether to consumers or to corporate travelers; the company must be the merchant of record on the transaction from a supplier’s perspective. At least 15 percent of the sales volume must have been generated in the U.S.
Travel Weekly requested that gross sales volume, the primary number for ranking, be certified by the company’s owner, CEO or CFO. In a small number of cases, certification as made by an executive at the vice presidential level but with financial oversight.
In one case, BCD Travel, sales totals are based on publicly disclosed information because the company did not respond to the survey. Several companies that may have qualified opted not to participate. They include Loyalty Travel and AdTrav; both appeared on the list in 2015 at No. 17 and No. 42, respectively.
While all cooperating entities on the list did certify sales (or made them public), readers must keep I mind that even those numbers are difficult to verify because the great majority of travel sellers are privately held and thus are under no obligation to disclose financial data.
Also, there is no commonly accepted standard for calculating sales volume, and there is no clearinghouse in the U.S. that tracks non-airlines sales, as does the Airlines Report Corporation (ARC) for airline sales.
Where possible, Travel Weekly sought to confirm accuracy in the figures by referring to other data and to articles published in the past year. The publication also reviewed responses for consistency and used whatever resources it had at its disposal to ensure accuracy.
The questionnaire on which the rankings were based also included questions involving sales figures; ARC sales; travel-related subsidiaries; percentage of sales from business and leisure; and corporate structure. There were several open-ended questions about recent and planned developments to which companies could reply in any way they felt appropriate.