Last year provided travel companies with enough reasons to report flat or weak performances: a U.S. Presidential election, the vote by Britons to pull the UK out of the European Union and terrorist attacks in different parts of the world, but they did not seem to have a dramatic impact on the companies that make up the new 2017 Travel Weekly Power List, the annual ranking of travel companies with travel sales of $100 million or more. The 2017 list’s rankings are based on 2016 business volume.
—Overall, the list suggests that the travel sector has performed better than the U.S. economy as a whole. For instance, the top three companies on the list of 59 travel companies (Expedia, Priceline Group and American Express Global Business Travel) increased the amount of business they conducted from 2015 to 2016 by 17 percent—from $146.3 billion to $171.6 billion.
—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. 18); H.I.S. USA (No. 31); and Kintetsu International Express (No. 41). Together, these three Japanese companies did more than $2.07 billion in business in the U.S. due to the fact that they all sell outbound to Japan as well as service inbound through their parent companies.
Other observations about the list, as reported by Travel Weekly, include the following:
—While most companies reported year-on-year increases in business, some companies pointed to outside forces as causing declines. For instance, the Appointment Group, headquartered in the UK, reported its global turnover was “adjusted by $25 million due to Brexit, which resulted in significant fluctuations in currency exchange rates over our two largest markets.”
—For the most part, Power List companies signaled optimism through their extensive investments in technology, expansion and people. And to a certain extent, upheaval in global politics and market changes can have a positive impact on travel agencies: As travel gets more complicated, their expertise will be more valuable than ever.
—Both Expedia and Priceline grew without major acquisitions; other Power List entries did grow through acquisition. Corporate Travel Management completed the acquisition of two previous listees: Travizon Group and Montrose Travel. Direct Travel acquired Traveline, which has been on the list in the past.
—Travel Leaders Group made a significant investment in CruCon, which is becoming part of Travel Leaders (although it’s too early to determine how that might affect CruCon’s future on the list).
Smaller companies also grew through acquisition. For example, Christopherson Andavo Travel acquired three nonlisted agencies: Salt Lake Travel Service in Utah, Dynamic Travel in Colorado and CV Humanitarian Travel in Alabama.
—Rovia and Small World Travel are new listees, while Quality Reward Travel returns after a two-year absence.
—Some companies continue to do well by specializing. That includes a couple of agencies that are the subjects of separate profiles. Small World Vacations overwhelmingly sells one brand as its name suggests (that brand is Disney) while Creative Lodging Solutions handles lodging for its clients.
Travel Weekly Power List 2017
* Full time and part time employees
** Full time employees and hosted commission agents
† Travel agency employees (full-time equivalents)
†† Plus 830 independent contractors
ᴬ Plus 135 independent contractors
ᴮ More than 600 independent contractors
ᴰ Full-time employees/hosted agents
ᴱ Plus 276 hosted agents
ᴳ Plus 28 contracted service and support providers
ᴴ Plus 40 commissioned agents
ᴶ Plus 2,323 commissioned agents
ᴸ Plus four part-time employees
Travel Weekly’s Methodology
—To qualify for the Power List, a company had to have a minimum of $100 million in sales in 2016. For purposes of this 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.
—Early this year, the questionnaire was sent to roughly 70 companies that had appeared on the list in previous years; had been in the news because of acquisitions or had grown for other reasons; or had contacted Travel Weekly believing they qualified.
—As has been the case for years, Travel Weekly requested that gross sales volume be certified by a company’s owner, CEO or CFO. In a small number of cases, certification was made by an executive at the vice president 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 Adtrav and Loyalty Travel; both have appeared on the list in the past.
—While all cooperating listees did certify sales (or made them public), it must be kept in mind that even those numbers are difficult to verify because the great majority of travel sellers are privately held and 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 nonairline sales, as ARC does 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. We also reviewed responses for consistency and used whatever resources we had at our disposal to ensure accuracy.
—The survey on which these rankings were based also included questions involving sales figures, ARC sales, travel-related subsidiaries, percentage of sales from business and leisure, corporate structure and others.
If you want to compare this year’s list with Travel Weekly’s 2016 Power List, click on: