Houston and New York-based travel management company Frosch has acquired a 51 percent stake in the corporate travel division of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Conlin Travel, the companies announced. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The merger, which both companies described as a partnership, puts a stake in the land in the upper Midwest for Frosch, a region where the company has historically not been well established. The match offers Conlin Travel access to a technology platform that could help the smaller TMC deepen its relationships with existing clients and attract new clients with new capabilities. President and CEO Chris Conlin will transition to the role of Managing Partner and grow the Great Lakes area portfolio.
Conlin Travel had $ 180 million in sales in 2019, according to the Travel Weekly 2020 Power List. Chris Conlin told BTN that the corporate segment accounted for 80 percent of the business before Covid-19.
Both companies emphasized the association’s cultural fit, which Frosch president and CEO Bryan Leibman said was the most critical factor in all of the Frosch deals. The company, which had $ 2.4 billion in sales in 2019, according to Travel Weekly—He’s grown half his business through acquisitions in 23 years, Leibman said, including three in the last 18 months.
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“We are a company looking for the best independent companies in the industry,” he said. “We have known Chris for a long time, we know how [Conlin Travel] you run the business and how you treat your people. We have acquired up and down cycle companies, but we have always identified the right companies and people and have become a preferred buyer and partner. “
Conlin said it was not the first time that he separated from a society like this. It did so with the leisure side of Conlin Travel five years ago and doubled the size of the business before Covid. In the past 18 months, the company made two smaller leisure acquisitions and has another pending. “It was a success,” he said.
On the corporate side, this time, Conlin was looking for an enthusiastic tech partner, because technology investments have been particularly challenging for small and medium-sized CCTs due to pandemic-era financial woes, he said, but also crucial to recovery. . He specifically highlighted Frosch’s unique global platform, innovations in new distribution capabilities, and the importance of real-time data acquisition and speed of reporting to clients.
Leibman added: “Now there is more pressure on the little boys because the [tech] Investments are larger and have to be mobile and global. We care about these businesses and we have faced the same things. This is an investment for us, but also a great home for them. “
As Frosch increases its presence by targeting small and medium-sized clients and agencies, it has positioned itself as an alternative for them to mega TMCs such as American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel and CWT. Those larger agencies, especially GBT, with their pending acquisition of Egencia and the recent launch of the Neo1 platform, have turned their sights on the mid-market as the first segment to see the boost in business travel since the pandemic.
When asked if he felt the mega was coming after his traditional SME territory, Leibman was unfazed.
“There are many things that the market demands,” he said of SME clients. “They need partners and solutions. We give them local relationships that they can trust. We have been here and excelled in that business. We have helped these customers overcome the crisis, have refunded and exchanged those tickets, and are trusted partners for suppliers. We welcome competition, but we are as well positioned as anyone. “
The new entity will operate under a transitional name yet to be determined before fully adopting the Frosch brand. The team discussed Conlin Travel’s brand equity in the region and the importance of creating a comfortable landing for existing clients during the transition period. Leibman pointed to Frosch’s partnership and acquisition integration experience as ensuring a smooth transition for Conlin’s clients. Frosch will also accept Conlin Travel’s 40 corporate travel employees, either within the new entity or within Frosch International.
Regional agency Conlin Travel advances with mergers and acquisitions amid a pandemic