Egencia Acquires Leading Australian Travel Management Company

Egencia, an Expedia, Inc. company, announced today that it has completed its acquisition of Travelforce, a leading Australian and New Zealand travel management company.

With more than 30 years of experience in the Australian market, Travelforce has a history of combining superior service and leading technology. Aligning with Egencia’s own core principles and brand, Travelforce will add a comprehensive service; helping clients reduce business costs, improve travel processes and maintain traveller safety and security.

The Travelforce acquisition will bring a number of other key benefits to the Egencia network, including:

– Expanded Australia/New Zealand presence: with the addition of Travelforce offices and centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia and Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand

– The enhancement of the existing Egencia Australia team: with additional experienced corporate travel professionals

– Increased customer benefits: with leading local customer service expertise and technology.

– The expansion of Egencia Australia’s existing product portfolio: with Travelforce’s expertise in meetings and incentives and high-end leisure travel

“After years as partners, we are proud and excited to welcome Travelforce as a close member of the Egencia family. Travelforce has an unparalleled reputation in the industry, and the combination of our talented teams will bring an even stronger offering and service to Australian and New Zealand companies and their travellers,” said Egencia Asia Pacific Managing Director Cecilia Routledge. “This acquisition is proof of Egencia’s commitment to expansion in the Asia Pacific region and leadership around the world. Going forward, we will combine the power of Egencia and Travelforce into one strong brand, leveraging the talent and assets of each company.”

“We couldn’t be happier to be joining the Egencia family. Egencia will enable Travelforce to offer clients leading online booking and reporting tools as well as global corporate travel support,” said Andrew Ross, Chairman and founder of Travelforce. “This will complement Travelforce’s already outstanding team, strong travel management, meetings and leisure offerings and will enable us to take our client services to the next level.”

The majority of the current Travelforce management team will join the Egencia Australia management team, in the new combined business called Travelforce, an Egencia Company. Ken Pfaffmann will take on the role of Managing Director.

“It’s a tremendous privilege to lead a company like Egencia,” said Pfaffman. “At a time when we see greater focus on the Asia Pacific region, Egencia has the ability to help Australian companies drive greater cost savings, improved policy control and better traveller experiences.”

Egencia Worldwide, now with Travelforce, is focused on several key initiatives over the next few years including geographic expansion and continued innovation, with a particular focus on mobile in 2011.

The transaction closed on April 4, 2011. Detailed terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

Tunisian tourism is on the rise

Tourism in Tunisia and across North Africa took a dive following the numerous uprisings and riots.

But it appears that it may be returning to a favoured holiday destination by us Brits.

The TripAdvisor website said there was a 19 percent rise in traffic for Tunisia in the four days after the foreign office downgraded the travel warning for the country.

The Foreign Office removed the warning on Friday, which had advised against all but essential travel to the troubled country.

Many tour operators that had cancelled package holidays to Tunisia and Egypt are now reconsidering resuming them.

Flights are expected to re-start next month.

Emma O’Boyle, of TripAdvisor said: “”It is always important to check with the Foreign Office before travelling but this is encouraging news for British travellers and tour operators, as well as the Tunisian travel industry.”

Tour operator Thomas Cook plans to start back up its flights to Tunisia in May.

Their cancellations totalled 150,000 during the North African uprisings. Of the cancellations 110,000 were to Egypt and 40,000 to Tunisia.

The group confirmed that disturbances in these two destinations would cost about £20m in the second quarter of its fiscal year.

Manny Fontenla-Novoa, CEO of Thomas Cook Group said: “Business is doing well despite disruptions caused by unrest in Tunisia and Egypt.”

And in Egypt the popular Red Sea resorts are now considered a safe place to holiday again.

Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office Minister, said: “The situation in Egypt remains fluid and we still advise against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.

“The situation in the Red Sea resorts remains calm. There’s no evidence that there’s anything in the Red Sea resorts which would lead to concern.

“We will keep this under regular review. The safety and security of British Nationals remains at the forefront of our minds.”

Sarah Taylor

Travelodge will launch apprentice scheme

The popular hotel chain has announced plans to train 18 year olds as apprentice managers luring them away from the now very expensive prospect of university. Travelodge will be paying them between £8,300 and £10,000 a year.

With the aim of producing 500 managers of properties by the age of 21, Travelodge’s three-year Junior Management Programme, known as JuMP, will be recruiting it’s first 50 apprentices this summer.

Hoping to take advantage of the increase in university fees, Travelodge hopes the low wage will not put young people off. A spokeswoman said a manager aged 21 would earn between £25,000 and £30,000 a year once trained. However once completing the three year course, apprentices will still have to complete the 12-week long management training programme.

“The point is they will be with us and getting on the job training rather than running up debts of more than £40,000,” the spokeswoman said.

Guy Parsons, Travelodge chief executive said: “The fast track management programme provides a real job, with the opportunity of on the job training throughout the business, combined with further education and the opportunity to earn up to £30,000.”

Travelodge plans to have 1,100 UK hotels by 2025 – doubling its current amount – and aims to have as many as half of these managed by apprentices by 2015.

“The budget hotel sector is the engine room of the hotel industry and Travelodge is the power brand of the UK hotel sector. Therefore the potential for today’s youth to revolutionise one of Britain’s powerhouse industries is phenomenal. I am hoping we will find our future business leaders from JuMP,” said Parsons.