10: Fareportal

The Travel Industry: A Trillion Dollar Global Force
The travel and tourism industry has grown massively over the past decade, now accounting for over 10% of global GDP and supporting more than 330 million jobs worldwide. In 2019 alone, the industry generated $9.2 trillion globally.

Behind this booming industry are innovative travel companies utilizing technology to transform how people research, book, and experience travel. The top 10 largest travel companies play a significant role powering travel globally through their advanced platforms, extensive partnerships, and focus on seamlessly integrating all elements of a trip.

This article will profile the 10 largest travel companies globally, providing an overview of their key brands, business models, offerings, and more.

Founded in 2002 by Sam S. Jain, Fareportal operates leading online travel brands CheapOair, OneTravel, and Travelong. Through strategic partnerships with over 500 airlines, 1 million hotels, and car rental companies worldwide, Fareportal sells air, hotel, cruise, car, and travel insurance products.

With an estimated $2 billion in sales in 2021 and over 2,000 employees, Fareportal provides 24/7 support and booking capabilities across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Key facts:

  • 5 major brands
  • 500+ airline partners
  • Available in 20 languages
  • $2 billion estimated 2021 sales

Founded in 1980 and headquartered in Colorado, Direct Travel is a prominent corporate travel management company focused on mid-market businesses. With over 2,000 employees and estimated $5.4 billion in sales in 2021, Direct Travel partners with organizations to optimize their travel programs and experiences.

Direct Travel delivers end-to-end corporate travel support from travel consulting to booking travel and managing expenses. A standout offering is their comprehensive Traveler Information portal with latest entry/testing requirements for all global destinations.

Key facts:

  • Founded in 1980
  • 60+ locations in US and Canada
  • $5.4 billion 2021 estimated sales
  • Specializes in mid-market corporate travel

A division of the iconic credit card company, American Express Travel provides a full-service online booking platform for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, and more. Launched in 1915 after the debut of American Express traveler‘s checks in 1891, the company generates over $6.7 billion in annual sales.

American Express Travel curates exclusive deals and perks when users book travel using their American Express cards. With no booking fees and 24/7 support, the site focuses purely on leisure travel.

Key facts:

  • Division of American Express
  • Founded in 1915
  • $6.7 billion in 2021 sales
  • Specializes in leisure travel

Formed in 2020 as a rebrand of Travel Leaders Group, privately-owned Internova provides premium travel services through over 70,000 advisors globally. With estimated $7.12 billion in sales in 2021, Internova owns brands including Travel Leaders Network, Cruise Specialists, and Villas of Distinction.

Internova‘s portfolio spans key segments like corporate travel, luxury, retail agencies, hotel sourcing, vacations, and more. Supported by innovative technology and marketing, its brands provide custom planning for all types of leisure and corporate travelers.

Key facts:

  • 70,000+ travel advisors globally
  • $7.12 billion in estimated 2021 sales
  • 20 major travel brands
  • Leader in luxury corporate travel

This Australian-based travel giant was founded in 1982 by Graham Turner. Through 35+ brands, Flight Centre Travel Group offers the full spectrum of travel support including flights, hotels, tours, cruises, and corporate travel management.

With over $16 billion in sales and more than 20,000 employees globally in 2021, Flight Centre Travel Group operates across Australia, Asia, Europe, South Africa, and North America. Their digital platforms combined with retail store locations provide comprehensive booking services and exclusive deals.

Key facts:

  • Australia-based
  • 35+ travel brands
  • $16 billion+ in 2021 sales
  • 20,000+ employees
  • Operations in over 90 countries

With a heavy focus on corporate travel, CWT provides end-to-end solutions for business meetings, events, tradeshows, compliance, traveler safety, and expense reporting. In 2021, sales exceeded $25 billion globally through CWT‘s operations spanning over 145 countries.

Along with 18,000 employees worldwide, CWT delivers customized travel programs to leading global enterprises from the S&P 500 and FTSE 100. CWT‘s technology aims to simplify travel management so employees can focus on productivity.

Key facts:

  • Corporate travel leader
  • $25 billion in 2021 sales
  • 18,000+ employees
  • Serves 33% of S&P 500
  • 145 countries served

This leading global travel management company was formed in 2006 when BCD Group acquired TQ3 Travel Solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands with John Snyder as CEO, BCD Travel operates in over 109 countries with 2021 sales exceeding $27 billion.

With a 98% client retention rate and 14,000 employees, BCD Travel specializes in consolidating corporate travel programs including hotels, airfare, and ground transportation. Along with cost savings, BCD provides enhanced reporting and traveler safety services.

Key facts:

  • Created in 2006 as subsidiary of BCD Group
  • 14,000 employees
  • $27 billion+ in 2021 sales
  • 109 countries served
  • 98% client retention

Jointly owned by American Express and an investor group, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is the leading B2B travel platform worldwide. From small enterprises to multinationals, GBT manages end-to-end corporate travel programs including flights, hotels, cars, expense reporting, and more.

In 2021, GBT delivered $33.7 billion sales globally through 18,000 travel professionals operating in 140 countries. With the acquisitions of Egencia and Ovation, GBT cemented itself as a dominant force in managed corporate travel.

Key facts:

  • World‘s largest B2B travel platform
  • Created in 2014
  • $33.7 billion 2021 sales
  • 18,000 employees
  • 50% owned by American Express

Comprised of over 200 major online booking sites across 70+ countries, Expedia Group simplifies leisure travel with cheap flights, vacation packages, rental cars, cruises, and hotels. Major Expedia Group brands include Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, VRBO, and Travelocity.

In 2021, Expedia Group achieved impressive 116% growth reaching $72.4 billion gross bookings worldwide. But this still left them trailing leading leisure booking platform Booking Holdings. With over 24,500 employees, Expedia Group makes booking dream vacations effortless.

Key facts:

  • 200+ travel sites globally
  • Flagship brand Expedia founded in 1996
  • $72.4 billion gross bookings in 2021
  • 24,500+ employees

Formerly known as Priceline Group, this Connecticut-based travel giant was founded in 1997 as Priceline.com. Now called Booking Holdings, the company owns industry-leading online travel brands including Booking.com, Kayak, Priceline, Agoda, and OpenTable.

With supply partnerships across over 220 countries, Booking Holdings delivered $76.6 billion gross bookings in 2021 through 590 million room nights booked. Led by Glenn Fogel as CEO, Booking Holdings dominates online accommodation and transport with 28+ million total listings.

Key facts:

  • Originally founded as Priceline.com in 1997
  • Name changed to Booking Holdings
  • 570 million+ room nights booked in 2021
  • $76.6 billion gross bookings in 2021
  • 28+ million total listings

Powering The Evolution of Travel
Across flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and more – the top 10 largest travel companies exemplify how digital innovation can totally transform an industry. By utilizing technology to connect travelers seamlessly with the best deals globally, these travel giants have made trip planning infinitely easier.

And with players like Booking Holdings facilitating nearly 600 million hotel rooms booked in 2021 alone, it‘s clear these platforms provide vital infrastructure enabling the growth of the $9+ trillion travel industry.

These leading travel companies continue finding ways to enhance the trip research and booking processes – offering 24/7 service, flexible cancellations, and personalized recommendations. As travel demand accelerates post-pandemic, expect the technology and services of the largest companies to elevation travel experiences even more in the decade ahead.

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