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ITA Reports Strong Agency Acquisition Trend

February 8, 2011 By: George Dooley

Innovative Travel Acquisitions (ITA) reported that owners of tour and travel related businesses across North America are seeing a solid bounceback in activity across all sectors of the industry and notes it represented five sellers in the past month.

As an example of the industry's recovery, Bob Sweeney, president of ITA, said the company recently represented Vancouver-based, a technology company that provides GDS services to 750 hotels outside America. The buyer was a private equity firm in Dallas. The other four recent sellers represented were Travel Service Everywhere; Brea Travel; Canyon Crest Travel; and Edgewood Travel.

Sweeney said owners contemplating a sale of their tour- or travel-related business should follow proven approaches and notes that Travel Acquisitions can provide owners with an opinion of value.

"Always remember the quality of the information the seller provides the buyer has a strong influence on the quality of the offer," Sweeney said. "Anyone thinking about selling must be sure to invest in a CPA providing monthly income statements for the two years prior to sale. Asking for a couple of million dollars based on unaudited QuickBooks is not going to generate any serious interest."

ITA’s suggested rules to help Sellers maximize value include:

1) Provide solid books and records
2) Show a flowchart showing how operation runs
3) Not having long term leases or other binding contracts
4) Utilize a specialist to help in the sale who has experience
5) Keep sale private & confidential up until closing
6) Have signed non-solicit contracts for employees and clients in place

Travel Acquisions five rules for buyers include:

1) Beware of top heavy, client base where a large chunk of revenue is tied into one or two clients
2) Require strong non-compete for seller to sign
3) Will key employees and clients stay after the sale?
4) Try to have an earn out component based on 1st year after sale performance
5) Conduct a thorough due diligence checklist to confirm revenues with bank statements

"Some of the reasons my clients have sold range from retirement to the current business climate everyone is experiencing," said Doug Haugen, consultant at ITA. "I hear over and over these past 12 months that it is harder and harder to compete. The Internet, their own suppliers, and economic and world affairs are all things an owner has to deal with. Those wishing to stay relevant are making the wise choice of selling to larger agencies."

ITA also announced it recently hired two additional full-time staffers — Joe Kimbrell and Colleen Forbeck — to keep pace with demand. Kimbrell has worked part-time with the firm for the past six years and handles technology needs and provides sales support. He completed his finance degree from Georgia Southern University. Forbeck’s background includes the Jones Day Law Firm. She also worked previously at Teplis Travel in Atlanta. She has a Travel & Tourism degree from Endicott College in Massachusetts.

With the five completed transactions Travel Acquisitions says it has consulted on 536 purchase/sale closings since its inception in 1991.



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By George Dooley | February 8, 2011
The broker reported five sales in January with more expected.
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