Investment and growth were the names of the game in 2013 for Salt Lake City-based Christopherson Travel, a company that has been aggressive in both acquisition and internal growth in recent years so that it now moves to the mid-ranks of the 2014 Power List (No. 27) with a $43 million growth in sales, a jump of 13%, in 2013.
The two big investments for the company in 2013 were:
• Enhancement of AirPortal, which included the development of AirPortal 360 Mobile, which the company calls the first comprehensive mobile app providing corporate travel managers the ability to manage their company's travel program from smartphones.
• Acquisition of All Seasons Travel, located in Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala. The combined company will conduct business under Christopherson Andavo Travel's three brands: Christopherson Business Travel (business travel division), Andavo Travel (leisure travel divisions) and All Seasons Sports Travel (sports and fan-based travel division). All Seasons had sales of $50 million in 2013.
The new mobile app is based on Christopherson's proprietary technology platform, AirPortal, which has three different views for users on laptops and computers, according to Mike Cameron, CEO of Christopherson. The first is AirPortal 360, which is for corporate travel managers, enabling them to see what's happening with their travelers. The second, called AdvisorCare, is for individual agents, enabling them to manage their clients' travel. The third, My Travel, is for the travelers themselves.
Last year, Christopherson launched AirPortal 360 Mobile for both corporate travel managers and individual agents. It gives corporate managers and agents an overview of their travelers, their location and any events -- weather, terrorism, a labor strike, an outbreak of measles -- that could affect any of their trips.
Examples of recent alerts: a political uprising in Thailand and the temporary closure of San Francisco's Bay Bridge. The affected travelers rerouted their travel, changing flights in the first instance and the driving route in the second.
Geographical growth will bring branding growth as a single location could have one, two or three different brands operating out of that location. The Salt Lake location, for example, houses both the Andavo and Christopherson brands; All Season Travel's Birmingham location has three brands operating under its roof.
But that was not all the activity in 2013. In order to accommodate its growing staff, the company relocated its Denver office to a larger space and remodeled and expanded both the Salt Lake City and San Francisco locations.
Christopherson also rolled out Travel Management University, which delivers courses online. Participants can take both required and elective courses to achieve various degrees of certification.
"We created the content ourselves and intend to build a full college curriculum," Cameron said.
Not surprisingly, Cameron has ambitious goals, aiming to do $450 million in business this year and $500 million in 2015.