Travel And Transport Acquires Radius Travel To Go 'All In' Globally
By Jay Campbell
Oct. 22, 2018
Travel and Transport last month acquired full ownership of the Radius Travel agency network company, buying out India-based minority shareholder Cox & Kings.
The transaction followed years of ownership consolidation in the network — most recently to two owners as Radius about two years ago bought shares back from U.K.-based Portman Travel (now Clarity).
Omaha, Neb.-based Travel and Transport named Radius president and CEO Shannon Hyland its new senior vice president of global services. It promoted Radius chief commercial officer Kieran Hartwell to president of Radius.
According to Hyland, the moves to consolidate ownership paralleled trends in the airline, hotel and tech segments.
"Once upon a time, Radius existed where all agencies owned a share in the company," Hyland said Monday. "That was unwieldy. We evolved to an ownership model and with what was going on in the industry — suppliers becoming choosier about who they're doing business with, how agencies are getting the best deals possible with Concur and other tech providers — the need for scale could not be overstated. It became apparent to the Radius board and management that the best way forward was to align with an aspiring global travel management company that puts itself in the best position to compete."
He mentioned such rivals as American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel and Carlson Wagonlit Travel — multinational agencies that own more of their operations than many travel management providers, but that also use a partnership model in some markets.
For Travel and Transport, the deal was the latest in a series of moves to build out its global capabilities. In 2015 it invested in Derpart Mfg Reisen of Germany and Switzerland, in 2016 it opened an office in Lyon, France, and last year it bought London-based Statesman Travel.
Acquiring Bethesda, Md.-based Radius could help Travel and Transport leverage its investments in technology.
"You look at things like NDC and where content is going, every TMC is trying to solve common issues," said Travel and Transport CEO Kevin O'Malley. "There's more than $33 billion of global spend in Radius and Travel and Transport. We have invested heavily in a lot of proprietary technology. We have a proprietary customer relationship management tool. How do we leverage that? If you have a controlling interest but not total ownership, you have to think about a dual strategy — Travel and Transport and Radius. When you own 100 percent, you can go all in.
"You'll see us make significant investments," O'Malley said. "You'll see a concerted effort to invest as much in common platforms as we can. CRM, content aggregation, mobile strategy, portal strategy. You'll see us collectively try to solve that together, and create commonality amongst the network."
U.S.-based Radius members contacted by The Company Dime expected business as usual after the deal.
"This is a natural next step in the evolution of Radius," according to AdTrav president and CEO Roger Hale. "By consolidating ownership, we will strengthen our supplier relationships and enhance our value proposition to our customers. I believe this investment by Travel and Transport validates the market position and unique advantages to a global entrepreneurial network."
Short's Travel Management is relatively new to Radius. "It's good for the network," said Short's CEO David LeCompte. "No concerns from me."
"It's a 'slow news day' story," quipped World Travel Inc. president Dee Runyan. "Travel and Transport already had a controlling interest. We use Radius for its hotel program, and the data consolidation they provide us is helpful. Those common ties are still there."
Execs said guidelines governing how members pursue sales leads — depending on whether they're generated by member TMCs or Radius itself — remain unchanged.
"A strong U.S. network is extremely important to us," said Travel and Transport president and COO Tim Fleming, also chairman of the Radius board. "It's all about winning business, and spreading business out amongst the network."
With the transaction, representation by Cox & Kings on the Radius board falls to one from two members.