This is particularly interesting to us at Christopherson Business Travel because we are an affiliate of BCD Travel. We see this as a positive announcement and anticipate that this should benefit our clients in the future, by giving us access to any discounted hotel and other discounted vendor content that Tbiz might have.
This transaction brings full circle the decade-long trend of online travel agencies and traditional full-service travel management companies converging. The trend started in 2002 when Expedia bought full-service corporate travel agency, Metropolitan Travel.
An interesting side-note to the story is that World Travel Partners, the predecessor company to BCD Travel, was the original fulfillment partner for Expedia. They issued and serviced all of the tickets for Expedia for many years, and by 1999 had as many as 250 customer service representatives assigned to the account.
Orbitz joined the convergence trend with the launch of Orbitz for Business in 2002 and then Travelocity followed suit by launching Tbiz in 2003. Expedia bought Paris-based Egencia in 2004 and eventually rebranded its entire business travel unit under the Egencia name.
During this same time period full-service business travel management companies were converging from the opposite direction and rapidly selling and implementing corporate online booking tools. Online adoption rates soared with TMCs over the past decade. Concur expanded the convergence trend by acquiring the Cliqbook on-line booking tool from Outtask and integrating it into their expense management service.
We can now say that effective travel management requires all TMC participants to offer and embrace the full spectrum of online booking tools as well the as the high-touch travel agent and account management services offered by the traditional TMCs.
Christopherson is also participating in the convergence trend with increased online booking adoption rates. While our total airline transactions in 2012 increased 17% over 2011, our online bookings increased at a much more robust rate of 78% during 2012!