IIn business, as in life, there are times when
size does not matter. There are times when
size takes a back seat to quality, smarts, quick-
ness, excellence or some other attribute.
But this is not one of those times.
Today’s supplement, our annual Power List, is unabashedly all about size. In this issue we give way to our
society’s fascination with size and list travel companies in
order of bigness.
When the Power List first appeared in 1992, under the
name “Top 50 Travel Agencies,” the smallest agency on
the list turned in annual sales of $55 million, and only
a handful topped the $1 billion mark. The No. 1 agency
was nearly twice as big as No. 2.
Today the cutoff at the low end is $100 million, and the
top of the list features 13 companies with more than $1
billion in annual sales. The top two share some $50 billion in annual sales, splitting it nearly 50-50.
And for some firms, all sales were online.
To the extent that growth and size are the fruits of
business success, it is fair to say that a healthy number
of travel retailers are
E D I T O R I A L S succeeding despite the revolutionary changes
that have reshaped this
business in the 16 years since this list first appeared.
But though the list is all about bigness, it bears noting
that something else is at work here. Every agency listed
here is “big,” but each is also unique.
And that suggests that, even as we celebrate bigness,
the true power of the intermediary sales channel might
not reside so much in the size of its players but in their
diversity, their ability to meet the rapidly changing needs
of fickle consumers and demanding suppliers.
If the past 16 years have taught us anything, it is that
there is more than one way to sell travel.
And the Power List agencies have mastered them all.
“ G y c e i TThere is no fat left.” With those words, IATA’s despairing director general iovanni Bisignani recently declared the futility, after ears of belt-tightening, of squeezing any more ineffi- iencies out of the world’s airlines through garden-vari- ty cost-cutting. But while there might not be any fat left in the cab- ns in terms of pillows or extra snacks, or empty rows to
stretch out on, there is apparently some fat in the route
Major U.S. airlines have been busy planning capacity
cutbacks for the second half of this year, but they’re not
merely cutting capacity to get smaller. They’re cutting
unprofitable services, or services that were marginally
profitable with $80 oil but not with $130 oil.
American’s Chicago-Buenos Aires route, launched just
last year, is apparently just such a route, or will become
one on Sept. 3. But we found it notable that shortly after
American hung a toe tag on that route, it posted plans to
add five weekly frequencies to its New York-Buenos Aires route, where it is already offering daily nonstops.
Tellingly, the capacity boost was posted at the Transportation Department the day after Delta filed plans to
enter the New York-Buenos Aires market with five weekly flights.
If both carriers follow through, sometime in December
their combined total of weekly flights in this market will
swell from seven to 17.
Evidently, not all fat is bad for you.
Shed no tears for ailing airlines;
they brought on their own woes
So the airlines are facing a $2.3 billion collective loss
in 2008, and 24 airlines have already gone bankrupt
The solution offered by the airlines’ top management
is less service, baggage charges, fewer flights and more
pleas for a government bailout. I wonder why no one
ever thought of just raising prices and foregoing the sur-charge/bailout smokescreen?
Former American Airlines chief Bob Crandall’s solution is reregulation and, of course, another big government bailout. Who was it that began all this dumbing-down of airline prices and services anyway, Mr. Crandall?
Selling airline tickets at a loss on the Web and making up
the loss on volume must have sounded good to you at
the time you dreamed it up, didn’t it?
Excuse me while I shed a tear for you and your fellow
airline management geniuses.
David G. Skehan, president
Adventure Travel of Florida
Cape Coral/Fort Myers/N. Fort Myers, Fla.
Regarding the situation with Domenico Salerno [the
Italian lawyer who was detained without charges by customs and immigration officials for 11 days], how could
this happen in America? Some officials should be fired.
Do you know if anyone has sued on his behalf? Imagine
how those in Italy must feel about our country. And Italy
is one of our allies.
One thing I have never understood: There must be
in the travel and hotel and airline industries important
people who contribute and/or have influence with our
political parties. Many are important Republicans. Why
haven’t they made their voices heard?
This year is an election year. There are many candidates running for election to the Senate and the House.
Let’s get their opinions. Let’s also get the presidential candidates to address these issues.
I strongly believe that by next summer, if not sooner,
the average American won’t be able to afford to fly or find
flights. Poor airline service, high fares, extra fees and fewer flights. You know what this will do to our economy.
Travel With Kal
Why are we letting U.S. officials
make us unfriendly to travelers?
What’s really rotten in oil trading
is the agenda of investment firms
Arnie Weissmann is so right in his column of May 19,
“Resign, Chertoff.” Our travel industry and economy
have suffered because of the actions and inactions of
at least of three of our leaders: President Bush, Director
of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice.
I have talked to many international journalists and
travelers who have a very negative view of America.
Many won’t be traveling to the U.S. in the future.
Regarding Lester Craft’s column, “Something is rotten
in oil trading” [The Bottom Line, June 16]: I believe
there is something more carefully calculated now in
play than the football analogy described in this interesting Travel Weekly column on oil speculators.
If you study the recent analytical predictions from the
financial community, such as the World Net Daily report
of June 9, you will see that the analysts are from such
companies as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, firms
that have lost billions of dollars in the recent home mort-