In the third major consolidation in business travel in just three months, Barcelona-based travel management company TravelPerk is acquiring one of its competitors – Chicago-based AmTrav - in a deal that brings together two of corporate travel’s most forthright leaders, TravelPerk co-founder and CEO Avi Meir and AmTrav co-founder and CEO Jeff Klee.

TravelPerk is not disclosing financial terms of the acquisition but said the deal is backed by a new $135 million credit facility it has received from Blackstone Credit & Insurance and Blue Owl Credit, two global alternative asset managers. In January, TravelPerk raised $104 million in a Series D1 extension funding round led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 that valued the company at $1.4 billion.

In addition, TravelPerk said the AmTrav brand will remain, with founders Klee and Craig Fichtelberg still in the roles of CEO and COO, respectively, and the entire AmTrav team staying on. The acquisition gives TravelPerk 1,200 employees globally, with now 200 in the United States – in cities including Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Miami - and plans to grow its U.S. employee count by about 35% this year as it accelerates growth in the region.

Klee and Fichtelberg started their careers in travel while still in college in 1989, creating what would becoming, which according to its website is no longer operating. Then in 2005 they moved into business travel with the launch of AmTrav, created as a technology-focused platform for small- and medium sized business and mid-market companies.Founded in 2015, TravelPerk said it already had 65% year-over-year growth in the U.S. in 2023, and this acquisition will make the U.S. its top revenue-generating region, fueled by integration of the two brands’ proprietary technology and artificial intelligence capabilities. 

“I’m thrilled to welcome Jeff, Craig and AmTrav to the TravelPerk team, as they bring a shared dedication to innovation and providing solutions that customers love,” Meir said.

“Their decades-long track record of success in the U.S. will supercharge our growth in the U.S. and around the world. And with the financial backing of world-class investors in Blackstone and Blue Owl, in addition to SoftBank earlier this year, we’re exceptionally well positioned to continue to invest in industry-leading technology and our global growth.” 

And said Klee, “I've admired TravelPerk for a long time and the more I've gotten to know Avi and his team, the more I've seen what kindred spirits our companies are. AmTrav’s customers will benefit from TravelPerk's global reach, scale and culture of innovation. Together, we'll continue the mission to use new technology and the right amount of human touch to make life better for businesses and their travelers. Craig and I couldn't be more excited to join this immensely talented team.”Klee has been a vocal advocate for innovation in the business travel space and for years has described the traditional flight distribution model as “broken.” AmTrav began selling NDC content through a direct connection with American Airlines dating back to 2019, and in the last year as American moved to accelerate its focus on NDC, Klee was one of its loudest proponents on social media and at industry events. Last month, as American announced the departure of chief commercial officer Vasu Raja and a reversal on some of its NDC policies, Klee penned an opinion piece on the deeper meaning of the news.

From the early days of the pandemic, Meir was dogged on social media about his confidence that business travel would return. In a recent interview with Softbank Vision Fund posted on that company’s website, Meir explained that while other travel companies had layoffs, TravelPerk kept all of the 450 employees it had at the start of the pandemic by moving them into different roles, which he described as a reflection of the company’s core value of taking care of its team members.

According to its website, TravelPerk provides business travel services to thousands of companies, including GetYourGuide, Workable, Typeform, Adyen, Volotea and more.

“In adopting an AI-led approach to expand product automation, TravelPerk’s business model is well positioned to scale pan-regionally,” said Stephen Thorne, investment director of SoftBank Investment Advisers.

“We believe the combination of the TravelPerk and AmTrav platforms will provide unparalleled service and choice for U.S. SMB and mid-market companies.”

At Phocuswright Europe last Tuesday, PhocusWire senior reporter Linda Fox sat down with Meir for a one-to-one interview on Center Stage. Watch the full discussion below.

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