Amadeus ended its decade-long ownership of a travel agency group, Vacation.com, selling it to Travel Leaders for an undisclosed sum.
Travel Leaders said Alexandria, Va.-based Vacation.com, with 5,100 travel agency locations in the U.S. and Canada, will operate as a standalone division headed by President Steve Tracas.
Travel Leaders, headquartered in Eden Praire, Minn., says Vacation.com is the largest vacation and cruise-selling network in North America, and the acquisition vastly increases Travel Leaders' buying power.
Coupling Vacation.com's footprint with 1,200 travel agency locations already in the Travel Leaders' fold, the combined company now features nearly 6,400 wholly owned, franchised and affiliated locations -- almost 30% of the travel agency locations in the U.S. and Canada, Travel Leaders says.
The acquisition ends an Amadeus experiment in travel agency ownership which began with its acquisition of Vacation.com in 2000.
At the time, the move was seen as a way for Madrid-based Amadeus to jumpstart its presence in the U.S. travel agency market.
Airlines had recently divested their stakes in GDSs, then known as CRSs, and the acquisition was widely viewed as a precursor to the GDSs getting much more heavily involved in travel agency retailing.
Sabre's acquisition of Nexion in 2003 was another sign that the GDSs would flex some retailing muscle.
Sabre sold Nexion, a host agency business, to Travel Leaders several months ago.
But, within several years of Amadeus' purchase of Vacation.com, Amadeus was rumored to be shopping Vacation.com as the agency group wasn't seen as a core asset given Amadeus' transition into a technology solutions provider.
In a statement today, Amadeus portrayed the transaction with Travel Leaders as "part of the natural evolution of both Amadeus and Vacation.com."
"Vacation.com was ready to further evolve and Amadeus has been evolving to firmly focus on serving as an IT solution provider," Amadeus stated. "So the time was mutually appropriate to enable Vacation.com to take that next step in their continued evolution."
Technically, Travel Leaders acquired Vacation.com from Amadeus Americas, the entity that owns the stock of all Amadeus properties in North America.
Travel Leaders is strong in business travel and the Vacation.com acquisition gives it an ehanced role in the luxury travel market in North America, as well.
Travel Leaders' other brands include Tzell, Results! Travel, Nexion, Cruise Holidays and Cruise Specialists.