This is what normal used to look like.
In the year before the coronavirus pandemic, there was actually a whole lot of good news for the travel companies that reported their 2019 results for inclusion in the 2020 Travel Weekly Power List, our annual ranking of companies with $100 million or more in travel sales in the previous calendar year.
Many of these agencies had expanded their sales volume, with some making acquisitions, bulking up staff and investing in new technology.
However, there's at least one reason why the number of companies is down two from the 54 that made the cut in 2019: Some agencies told us they were too busy dealing with issues related to the Covid pandemic to take the time to fill out this year's Power List questionnaire. JTB Americas Group, which last year was No. 19, with $1.26 billion in sales, and Global Travel International, No. 46, with $221 million in last year's listing, each declined to participate, citing their need to focus on staff and clients.
H.I.S. U.S.A. Holding, last year's No. 33, didn't return a questionnaire. Booking Holdings also didn't return a questionnaire, but in its case, we were able to estimate its position using public documents (see note, below).
There was also one major Power List merger in 2019: Professional Travel, No. 31 on the 2019 list, was acquired by this year's No. 9, Direct Travel.
Meanwhile, Nebraska's Executive Travel and Oklahoma-based World Travel Service both joined the list.
For many of our Power Listers, 2019 was a productive year. Agencies invested in technology, with Direct Travel, Travel and Transport, ATG, Fox World Travel and Fareportal among the companies exploring artificial intelligence and related chatbot technology. OutsideAgents.com, KHM Travel Group, Cruise Planners and World Travel Service all launched or enhanced education programs in an effort to make agents more adaptable to changing conditions.
All of that investment may prove useful as the industry emerges from a punishing shutdown. As our profiled agencies can attest, some of that difficult work has already begun.
On that final note, it's worth keeping in mind that the questionnaire was completed by agencies between late February and mid-May. Answers, especially to the Looking Ahead portions of the profiles, may represent different corporate realities at different points of the crisis.
Start the Power List at Number 1.
Read our Methodology.