P L O
0 TR Among these trends are several that are
not only helping the big get bigger but are
helping more agencies get big:
• Medium-to-large agencies are affiliating
with global giants such as HRG, BCD and
American Express. In addition, new entries
such as America’s Vacation Center (No. 52)
are building large companies on network
and franchise models.
• Globalization is enabling regional agencies to affiliate with global companies and
associations to establish an international
• Hosting is fueling growth at many
agencies, which are capturing significant
sales through independent travel sellers.
• Through a combination of hosting and
7 technology, many agencies are able to produce higher sales with a smaller staff.
But the forces at work in travel are not a
rising tide that is lifting all boats. There remains a widening gap between the Big and
the Truly Big, with a $6 billion space now
separating the sales of Nos. 7 (Orbitz Worldwide) and 8 (AAA).
And the Truly Big did indeed get bigger:
American Express Business Travel, the No.
1 seller on the Power List, increased its sales
by 17.5%. Carlson Wagonlit Travel (No. 2),
which acquired Navigant International in
2006, reported a 33.7% increase in sales.
riding on trends that show no sign of stopping.
$732 million with 436 employees. Tzell (No.
17) added $100 million in sales year over
year but added only 45 employees.
One reason for some of those numbers is
the growing trend toward hosting outside
agents, at-home travel sellers or brick-and-mortar agencies that don’t have ARC appointments.
Travel and Transport (No. 13) reported
hosting 22 outside travel sellers who produced $5 million in sales; Ovation Travel
Group (No. 24) reported $62.5 million in
sales from outside agents; and Travel Store
(No. 32), reported that $59 million, nearly a
quarter of their total sales, came from outside agents.
Sellers specializing in business travel
management continued to dominate the
Power List overall, but six of the companies
in the Top 10 are primarily sellers of leisure
travel. (For more on leisure agencies, see
story, Page 38.)
BY HARVEY CHIPKIN
Mergers remain a popular way to bulk up
and, as in previous years, the Power List includes agencies that have recently combined.
In these cases, the
(No. 40) entity
among them, the
ranking is based
on what the joined
have realized in
sales in 2006.
Along with consolidation came more spin-offs. Notably,
Travelport was spun off from Cendant to
become a purely travel-focused company.
Other trends continued or accelerated.
For instance, the giants in online travel enjoyed significant gains in sales, though not
at the explosive growth rates of recent years.
Sales at Expedia (No. 3), jumped 10.3% to
$17.2 billion. Travelocity (No. 6) enjoyed a
heady 35.8% increase, to $10.1 billion.
Orbitz Worldwide, which is the travel
sales division of Travelport, is No. 7. Priceline moved up a notch to No. 9.
Many agencies saw large leaps in sales with
little change, or even a drop, in the number
of employees. For instance, Travizon (No.
15), increased its sales from $660 million to
The Power List is all about size and represents an effort to rank the nation’s top travel
sellers in terms of the total dollar volume
of annual sales. That simple starting point,
however, quickly leads to complexity. For
• What is a travel seller? For this list,
Travel Weekly defined travel sellers as intermediaries that sell travel products through
any medium (electronic, telephone, etc.)
directly to consumers.
• Why are some companies treated as
single entities and
others as conglomerates? That
on whether a company had a unified
example, is part of a larger entity (Sabre)
but reports its sales separately. Carlson
Wagonlit is half-owned and Carlson Leisure
Group is fully owned by Carlson Cos., but
they operate separately.
AAA is treated as one entity because it
has a national structure and is a nonprofit
organization. While individual AAA clubs
have a great deal of autonomy, they operate
collectively under a national brand.
Looking ahead, it will be worth watching
to see if the affiliate-based companies will
be able to maintain their growth rates, who
will gobble up whom and who will affiliate
Every year brings more than a few surprises.
American Express Business
Travel, No. 1 on the
Power List, reported $24.2
billion in sales in 2006.