The business travel market that Direct Travel serves is
large and growing. U.S. business travel stabilized in 2014
and spending is projected to rise 6. 2 percent to $310.2 bil-
lion in 2015, according to a report by the Global Business
Travel costs are often the third- or fourth-largest
expenditure within a company, and a managed travel
program can save companies as much as 30 or 40 percent of
that expense, says Lisa Buckner, a Direct Travel president
who oversees the central U.S. region. “We’ll consult with
them on their spend and provide data and various options
for decreasing their travel costs.”
Silver Oak teamed up with travel industry veteran Ed
Adams in 2011 to execute a consolidation strategy in the
sector. Their first purchase was Mahwah, New Jersey-
based Directravel. Directravel had $200 million in annual-
ized sales, 120 employees and about 127 customers. Since
then, Silver Oak has acquired 11 more travel companies.
The newly renamed Direct Travel Inc. portfolio of compa-
nies now has $1.54 billion in annualized sales, about 915
employees and roughly 1,300 customers.
The corporate travel management sector includes
giants like American Express and Carlson Wagonlit Travel
that serve many of the country’s biggest corporations.
Direct Travel competes in the middle market, which is
still fragmented and made up of many smaller regional
players providing corporate travel services. Adams says
Direct Travel is carving out its own niche by focusing on
serving companies with annual travel budgets ranging
from about $500,000 to $20 million; he estimates there are
some 50 travel management companies in that space ripe
for takeover. Many of those businesses were started in
the 1970s and have owners nearing retirement age
looking for an exit strategy.
MANAGING COSTS //
Direct Travel’s Lisa
Buckner details how her
firm helps companies
analyze travel budgets
to cut costs.