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Travel Acquisitions Group Announces Major Strategic RealignmentFebruary 3, 2009 By: George Dooley
Travel Acquisitions Group (TAG) CEO Barry Liben announced a strategic realignment of the organization which creates a new business travel division within the organization. Travel Leaders Corporate will consolidate all of the company’s owned corporate operations under the Travel Leaders umbrella. Longtime Tzell partner and vice president of business development David Holyoke will serve as the new division’s president. Liben also announced that TAG’s company-owned leisure operations are now being consolidated under its Holland, MI-based ProQuest Travel Group division headed by Tom Baumann, president.
Travel Leaders Associates (franchisees) remain an integral part of TAG’s The Travel Franchise Group (TTFG) division headed by its president, Roger E. Block. They will benefit from increased access to business and leisure travel resources through the new Travel Leaders Corporate and ProQuest Travel Group divisions, the company said. Neither Tzell Travel Group’s commissioned agents or branches, nor Connexions Loyalty Travel Solutions are included in the strategic realignment.
“This realignment offers our renewed commitment that Travel Leaders will serve as our marquee brand,” explained Liben. “By consolidating our diverse company-owned corporate and leisure travel holdings, along with similar travel acquisitions in the future, into two central operations, we’ll deliver an even more robust and potent premier travel offering to each of our valued clients. By growing and strengthening our company-owned Travel Leaders operations, both through David and Tom’s respective divisions, we look forward to attracting more independent agencies into the Travel Leaders Associate franchise program, which Roger leads. The success of our company-owned and franchised Travel Leaders operations cannot be mutually exclusive – they will continue to be intertwined as we build the industry’s leading name in travel.”
Travel Acquisitions Group was formed in January 2008 when TAG Chairman and Founder Michael Batt acquired the former Carlson Leisure Group from Minneapolis-based Carlson. At that time, all of the company’s corporate travel operations were primarily limited to those included within TAG’s ProQuest Travel Group. Subsequently, in March 2008, TAG acquired the predominantly corporate-oriented Florida-based TraveLeaders. As part of the strategy to rename TraveLeaders with the same new brand selected for TTFG’s Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates (franchise) program, the acquisition was brought under the auspices of that TAG division, which continues to maintain oversight for all franchise offerings.
Coinciding with the unveiling of the Travel Leaders brand to Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates and TraveLeaders in August 2008, Travel Acquisitions Group and New York-based Tzell Travel Group jointly announced the merger of their two companies. At the time of the merger, Tzell Travel Group was already ranked as one of the nation’s top four corporate travel management companies.
Travel Leaders Corporate
“As we continue transforming Travel Leaders into one of the industry’s foremost names in travel, we will harness the best components of each of our various corporate travel entities and synergize them through one strong sales force,” explained Holyoke. “I’m thrilled that we will also partner with our Travel Leaders franchisees in what promises to be an unprecedented level of interaction.”
Holyoke joined Tzell in 2003 as vice president of business development, and in 2007 became a partner in the company. His responsibilities at Tzell included overseeing its corporate travel operation, negotiating supplier agreements, exploring new revenue streams, and identifying acquisition targets. Prior to joining Tzell, Holyoke enjoyed a 10-year career at American Airlines where he spent time in various sales positions, including his last position as director of international sales and marketing for the airline’s eastern division.
As part of the realignment, Holyoke announced that his leadership team is comprised of Mark Elias as executive vice president of business development; Karen Blauw as senior vice president of operations; and Stephen Thomas-Schulere as senior vice president of client relations. Each leader has been promoted, respectively, from positions within TraveLeaders, ProQuest and Tzell.
ProQuest Travel Group
“By enabling our ProQuest team to focus entirely on our award-winning leisure travel products, some of which already carry the Travel Leaders name, we look forward to further strengthening our niche offerings and contributing to the overall TAG organization,” stated Baumann, president of ProQuest Travel Group. “With all the positive, strategic moves we are making within Travel Acquisitions Group, we are confident that we’ll be in a much stronger position, no matter what the future holds.”
In addition to its company-owned Travel Leaders leisure travel operations, ProQuest Travel Group includes Cruise Specialists, CruiseDeals.com, All Aboard Travel, Partners In Travel, SinglesCruise.com and Luxury Travel Network. The name ProQuest itself is not a consumer-facing brand, but merely the name of the division.
In tandem with the realignment, Baumann announced that his leadership team is comprised of Jody Ryland as vice president of leisure travel (Travel Leaders); Chris Parker as vice president of All Aboard Travel, Partners In Travel and SinglesCruise.com; Greg Nacco as vice president of Cruise Specialists and Jared Smith as general manager of CruiseDeals.com.
The Travel Franchise Group
“When we embarked on a bold, new course just over one year ago, Mike Batt offered our franchisees his sweeping vision for how we would collaborate completely with them by putting their best interests first,” noted Block. “I’m enthusiastic that we are delivering on that promise, demonstrating our resolve to build Travel Leaders into one of the industry’s most successful and respected names in travel.”
The Travel Franchise Group is comprised of four franchised brands, including Travel Leaders, Cruise Holidays, Results! Travel and SeaMaster Cruises. All four brands were recently ranked again in Entrepreneur’s annual Franchise 500 listing.