Christopherson Business Travel was recognized today by Utah Business Magazine as one of Utah’s fifty fastest growing companies, determined by a combination of compound annual growth and revenue. This is the fifth year Christopherson has been named a Fast 50 company and was ranked at #38.
Christopherson’s CEO, Mike Cameron, accepted the award at a luncheon held in honor of all fifty recipients at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. He was also recently interviewed by Utah Business and shared more about Christopherson’s growth and formula for success.
Utah Business (UB): What do you attribute your strong growth to?
Mike Cameron (MC): Christopherson focuses intently on creating and maintaining a unique competitive advantage that isn’t claimed by the competition. Our in-house software engineering team has created a powerful suite of corporate travel management software and online business travel tools that can generate considerable cost savings for our clients through managing their business travel spending, their travelers’ security, unused airline tickets, and monitoring travel policy compliance.
Our company culture also plays a strong role in Christopherson’s growth. The culture we have created is built upon a simple formula: hire the right people + create the right value proposition + a willingness to share the wealth with those who generate it. This equals growth. As we have been consistent in the application of this formula, we have grown the company from $1 million to $341 million in 23 years.
UB: What challenges have come alongside strong growth for your company and how have you overcome those?
MC: Four things come to mind. First, by 2000, Christopherson had expanded to four offices, and we decided to merge the offices into a newly-built 42,000 square foot building in Murray, Utah. We moved in the week of September 11, 2001. At the same time, as we all know, the entire travel industry came to a halt. However, Christopherson still grew 17% in 2001 and had another great year.
Second, when the airlines eliminated travel agency commissions in 2001, Christopherson’s competitors began to cut back on their employees’ compensation to stay afloat. But we, on the other hand, gave everyone a raise that year. We announced that while others would become defensive, Christopherson would take advantage of the opportunity and expand. Optimism and morale stayed high, and it worked – more growth!
Third, when people began to more fully embrace the practice of booking their own travel on the internet, this began to cut into Christopherson’s bookings. So we responded by offering customized internet booking tools to our clients. We embraced the new environment and Christopherson’s clients now book millions of dollars online using Christopherson’s tools. We have an entire team of professionals who manage all of the online technology and online bookings for our corporate clients.
And finally, as the economy began to decline rapidly in late 2008, we presented a strategy to our management team. We looked at all of the various economic downturn scenarios and presented a plan to respond to every possibility. It took all of the fear out of the process. We followed the playbook and Christopherson was able to get through a 20% economic downturn with minimal layoffs.
UB: Are there any major initiatives or goals in the near future?
MC: Christopherson booked $341 million in travel in 2012. We plan to grow to $500 million by 2015. Christopherson’s vision for the future is simply to continue growing by finding new ways to add value to our client’s travel management program. We will continue to invest heavily in keeping our proprietary technology platform unique and relevant, which has become the “secret sauce” in our success.
UB: What excites you most about your company’s future?
MC: Creating a strategy that will adapt to the rapid changes in the travel industry and provide a solid future for our employees and other stakeholders.
UB: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your company?
MC: This month, we released the first comprehensive IOS mobile app designed exclusively for corporate travel managers, executives, and team leaders. (Read the press release here.)