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Timing Crucial For Agency Buyers and SellersJuly 18, 2012 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
Travel buyers and sellers should be alert to pending legal and legislative changes, including a possible increase in Long Term Capital Gains tax rates now set to go up by 33 percent on January 1, 2013, according to Bob Sweeney, president and CEO, Innovative Travel Acquisitions (ITA), a major travel industry broker.
"I strongly urges anyone who is considering selling in the near future to list your business now while there is still time to shoot for a December 31st, 2012 closing date. Total after tax returns will be affected by this significant tax hike - unless Congress acts," Sweeney said.
To encourage listings ITA is offering a $500 discount at closing if a listing is made prior to August 1, 2012.
"Fear not, there are buyers out there. Banks seem to be trying to get Small Business Administration (SBA) loans pushed thru again, which is a positive indication of buyers’ optimism in acquisitions at this point in the economic cycle. The aging population of tour and travel-related company owners will drive our business over the coming decades. While retirement has certainly been pushed back for many, you do not want to “die at your desk,” Sweeney says.
Sweeney's seven tips for sellers include the following: do not list unless you are ready to sell at today’s market multiple or percentage of sales benchmark; have past 24 months income statements ready to share; put together a concise overview of who you are, what you do, where your business started, where it is today and where it can go with new resources; do not enter into any long-term lease or subscription contracts prior to a sale; never become emotional in negotiation and compile a list of assets that will be acquired by a potential buyer.
Last but not least, he urges sellers to contact ITA 18-24 months prior to the date the agent wants to fully step away from the business, as most buyers want the previous owner to stay on for 12 months after the sale.
Throughout ITA’s 21 year history, Sweeney notes that the company has represented all different kinds of companies including: technology, representation, marketing, incentive/loyalty/rewards companies, villa rental agencies, online (portable) businesses, niche tour operations, motorcoach and shuttle operations as well as numerous other niche companies.
Sweeney notes that many experts are predicting a huge wave of businesses will become available for sale over the next two decades as baby-boomers will be looking to retire.
He suggests agents ask five key questions when acquiring a tour or travel-related business, including: who runs the business and how does the business function when the owner takes a two week vacation; do the numbers add up and will the business provide a reasonable return on your investment and time; how does the business attract leads and which marketing channel provides the most/best leads?
Another question is if the business will survive the transition and will key employees stay-on post transaction? Finally, Sweeney asks if the seller put any skin in the game and be willing to stand behind the business’s first year post-sale performance?
Sweeney will be conducting a 75 minute seminar, “The Nuts & Bolts of Tour Operator Acquisitions" in San Diego at the National Tour Operators annual meeting Saturday, August 18, 2012.