Professional travel agents received a vote of confidence with Monday’s announced acquisition of Vacation.com by Travel Leaders Group, Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben said in an interview with Travel Agent.
“The acquisition positions Travel Leaders to serve our agents in all major markets, including luxury travel, cruises and tours – as well as business and leisure market segments including the mass market,” Liben said. “ Our agents will clearly benefit from the synergize the acquisition creates as will suppliers.”
The acquisition of Vacation.com from Amadeus Americas, Inc. is effective immediately and gave Travel Leaders Group total travel sales in excess of $6 billion. The financial terms of the acquisition were not revealed.
Travel Leaders owns well-known agency brands such as Travel Leaders, Tzell, Results! Travel, Nexion, Cruise Holidays and Cruise Specialists. Travel Leaders Group now comprises nearly one-third of the travel agency industry. Suppliers of both Travel Leaders Group and Vacation.com have been notified of the move, as has Vacation.com’s 5,100 travel agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
Liben said that Alexandria, Va. -based Vacation.com will continue to operate as a stand-alone division led by its current president, Steve Tracas, who will report directly to Liben.
“We are delighted with the move and believe our Vacation.com member agents will benefit as will our suppliers,” Vacation.com’s Tracus said. “Travel Leaders is an agent centered organization with tremendous leadership, resources and experience.”
Tracus said that the move will enhance the value of Vacation.com to its member agencies. He also believes the acquisition will increase Vacation.com's value to preferred suppliers, including luxury travel suppliers.
"Travel Leaders ownership is agency driven and understand the need to deliver value to member agents and their clients,” Tracus said. “Our ability to offer agents and their clients incentives will be increased.”
Vacation.com itself is the product of the 1998 acquisition and consolidation of 10 travel agency marketing organizations.
The newly enlarged company now consist of nearly 6,400 wholly-owned, franchised and affiliated locations.
“The agency business is our heart and soul – it’s what we know and it’s all we do,” Liben said.
Liben also stressed that the Vacation.com acquisition provides Travel Leaders Group with unprecedented volume in serving high-end and ultra high-end travelers. The deal would significantly increase the company's presence in the luxury market.
“We will continue to expand luxuty travel sales,“ Stephen McGillivray, vice president of Travel Leaders Group marketing said. “It will be business as usual and we will continue to innovate serves to support our members.”
Liben and Tracus both said that the initial response to the acquisition has been extremely favorable including reactions from preferred suppliers and member agents.
“This is is an exciting development for both Vacation.com and Travel Leaders. This powerful retail travel organization, with an extraordinarily strong management team, will help keep the retail travel distribution channel viable. We wish continued success to all parties.” Michelle Morgan, president Signature Travel Network, a major agency owned group, commented.