Evidence of the latest threat to the Canadian retail travel sector is probably right in your own wallet. It’s your Costco membership card.
TORONTO — Hot on the trail of several major acquisitions in 2017, Vision Travel is still very much in growth mode and looking for more agencies. “We are looking for great travel companies to come onboard with us,” said Brian Roberston, President Ontario-West, ahead of the company’s ‘Power of Vision’ annual conference in Toronto.
Vision’s President, Quebec-East, Joel Ostrov, adds: “We believe there is strength in volume.”
The company made a number of high-profile moves in September, including the acquisition of Travel Sensations Downtown in Toronto and WD World Travel in Vancouver.
This past spring Vision Travel announced its merger with Direct Travel Inc., one of the top travel management companies in the U.S.
And just a few weeks ago Vision Travel and Direct Travel said they planned to build on their merger by joining forces with travel management company ATPI to form Direct ATPI Global Travel.
Together Vision Travel, Direct Travel and ATPI represent over $7 billion in sales, with 160+ locations in more than 50 countries and over 4,500 team members worldwide.
Through it all Vision Travel continues to operate under its existing brand in Canada.
The company is on track to hit the $1 billion mark in this market by the end of 2018. “We had a strategic plan to grow into a $1 billion company,” said Robertson. Right now in Canada Vision Travel is at the $800 million mark.
Roberston said Vision started looking at acquisitions in the U.S., which led to the Direct Travel merger. “We started having discussions with TMCs and it all happened very organically,” he said. Added Ostrov: “We said to Direct, ‘We’re the biggest in Canada, you’re one of the biggest in the U.S. Why don’t we get together?”
The April 2017 deal with Direct was a perfect match, says Roberston. “At the end of the day, we wanted the right fit. That was Direct. They were the most like us. They have a regional management structure, just like us. Their business is made up corporate, leisure and meetings, just like us. They also specialize in mid-market companies, and that’s our specialty as well.”
Vision’s business mix these days is two-thirds corporate and one-third leisure and meetings. The company has 16 locations across Canada and is part of the Virtuoso network. When it merged with Direct its footprint grew to 60 locations worldwide, and the ATPI merger took that even further with 160 locations worldwide.
More than 400 attendees including Vision employees, management and partner suppliers were on hand for the ‘Power of Vision’ conference at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. “Our ‘Connections’ theme is very appropriate. We’re bringing together our top performers and partners,” said Roberston.
Vision Travel started in 1953 and now counts some 725 employees. The company has had a “great year” in 2017, in fact one of its best ever, says Ostrov.
As recovery efforts continue in the Caribbean following the devastation caused by hurricanes, Vision Travel Foundation, the charitable arm of Vision Travel Solutions, is making a $25,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross. Robertston and Ostrov announced the donation this past weekend at the Power of Vision conference.