This story appears in full in the July/August issue of Middle Market Growth.
Smartphones have made it easier than ever for business travelers to book plane tickets and make hotel reservations. What these devices can’t do as easily is help businesses trim their travel budgets, forge alliances with airlines and promptly answer a call from a chief executive who must find a way to get to or from a meeting in an ice storm.
That’s where corporate travel management companies like Direct Travel Inc. come in. Beyond booking trips and handling the other front-end work of old-school travel agents, these full-service representatives troubleshoot travel problems, help businesses analyze and manage their travel budgets and much more, in effect functioning as an outsourced travel department.
“Would a company let their employees willy-nilly buy computers and office products?” asks Ed Adams, chief executive of Direct Travel Inc. “We’re managing the business-to-business travel process for companies.”
Private equity firm Silver Oak Services Partners is betting on Direct Travel and growing demand for travel management services. It committed $150 million in cash and debt to fund a roll-up of midsize travel management companies under the Direct Travel umbrella. Even as many leisure travelers have forgone travel agents and migrated online to book their own flights, the investment firm says companies still prize the efficiency and cost savings they can achieve by outsourcing their travel management to experts …