Former Cendant and Starwood execs launch consulting firm

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Five former executives from Cendant and one from Starwood have formed a travel consultancy in partnership with PhoCusWright.

Hudson Crossing, based in New York, stated that it would use its expertise in mergers and acquisitions, asset utilization, sales and marketing, product development and technology to advise start-ups. It will also counsel existing travel businesses on course corrections, turnarounds and optimizing performance.

And it will do so, the company said, leveraging the research of PhoCusWright, which has formed a long-term partnership with Hudson Crossing.

The firm's managing partner is Mike McCormick, who served as executive vice president of Cendant's Hospitality and Leisure Group.

The chairman is Tom Christopoul, president of Somerset Shore Associates and the former chairman and CEO of Cendant's Financial Services unit.

Rounding out the partners with Cendant ties are Andy Hermo, formerly group vice president of global efficiencies for Cendant's Travel Distribution Services; George Roukas, formerly vice president of product management for Cendant's TDS; and Ed Silver, previously vice president of technology and operations for Cendant's Hospitality and Leisure Group.

Tom Botts, most recently vice president of global travel industry sales and strategy for Starwood, also is a partner in the self-funded Hudson Crossing.

Philip Wolf, president and CEO of PhoCusWright, said industry trends made the moment ripe for consulting. He cited new investors, corporations reassessing their strategies and smaller players taking on larger companies as factors accentuating the "growing need for good strategy work in the marketplace."

Wolf sees the partnership with Hudson Crossing as a matter of "scope and scale."

He said the new firm would take on larger and deeper consulting projects than PhoCusWright had been able to do on its own because Hudson Crossing would be able to "dedicate an entire team to advisory work."

He added that most of the new advisory services that PhoCusWright would offer would be done through Hudson Crossing, although PhoCusWright might continue with some smaller advisory projects of its own.

"Going forward, our intention is to work with these guys," Wolf said.

McCormick said he saw an opportunity for an advisory firm that knows the travel and tourism business "and can give a company a needed shot in the arm," adding that businesses would typically contract with Hudson Crossing for six to 18 months.

"There is a lot of capital coming into various businesses, and there are higher expectations about performance than ever before," McCormick said.

He said that Hudson Crossing, which launched with a few unidentified clients in the fold, would leverage PhoCusWright's research prowess.

"We see that as one of the building blocks when we go into clients," McCormick said.

Neither company would detail the nature of their new partnership.

"We have struck a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship," said McCormick.  

To contact reporter Dennis Schaal, send e-mail to [email protected].

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