NAVIGANT FINDS SUCCESS ONLINE, OFFLINE AND ON WALL STREET
THE INTERNET HAS ALTERED THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE for many businesses, not least the travel industry. But while previously the World Wide Web was the playground of the rate-picking leisure traveler, the Internet suddenly has become a serious tool for business travel management.
And a Denver-based firm is leading the charge.
Navigant International Inc. operates from an unassuming low-rise building tucked in a corner of Inverness Office Park. In less than three years, it has grown into the fourth-largest corporate travel firm in the world, with 13,000 clients in 22 of the nation's top 25 business markets.
Navigant doesn't focus on booking family vacations to Disneyland (more about that later), but rather serves the business traveler. In a world of specialists, its specialty is mid-sized companies spending $400,000 to $40 million annually on "managed travel." And it is so good at what it does that Forbes named it one of the best 200 small companies in 2000.
Navigant is poised to build an even stronger position as the online, corporate-booking universe unfolds, because it already is a technological industry leader. The company has married sophisticated software programs that track a client's travel trends and search for the best deals on air fares and hotel rates with the desktop accessibility of the Internet. The result is an efficient system that allows corporate clients tighter control over travel spending. Forty of the top 50 corporate travel agencies are licensing some or all of Navigant's software.
Its newest product, ReportFLYR 2.0 -- a Web-based platform launched in January that lets companies more efficiently control travel spending in real time -- is already garnering praise from industry consultants as "the next-generation reporting system for the travel industry."
"Technology (and the Internet) is critical to our future," says Thom Nulty, Navigant's president and chief operating officer. It's "driving huge change in the way we do business." According to a recent report from Jupiter Research, a leading authority on e-commerce trends, online corporate booking is the fastest growing segment of the Internet travel market. Last year, $4.4 billion of travel was booked online, and Jupiter predicts that number will grow eightfold over the next four years.
Still, that's only about 1 percent of all business travel, according to Navigant. Thus far, only about 1 percent of Navigant's...