Never heard of Kuoni? You’re about to. On February 2, the company announced its purchase of the U.S. destination management operations of marketing and communications agency TBA Global.
A leading high-end leisure travel and tour operator based in Zurich, Switzerland, Kuoni booked its first “escorted trip” in 1907 to Egypt, led by founder Alfred Kuoni. In the more recent past (2006), the company collected the dozens of “inbound operators” it had acquired throughout the years under a new brand—Kuoni Destination Management—with 66offices in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia, plus 23 global sales offices.
Only one affiliate, however, New York–based AlliedTPro, with its own network of six offices, was in the United States.
“We would like to introduce the Kuoni name to the meetings and incentives market in the U.S.,” says Jane Rossmango, CEO of Kuoni Destination Management USA. “We had been searching for two or three years for a company to acquire. TBA Global gives us quite a footprint, with the skill set we had established in Europe. We found them to be the perfect addition.”
For TBA Global, says Alison Jenks, vice president, marketing, selling its U.S. destination management operations will allow the New York¬–based company to focus on its core mission: helping clients set and reach their communications goals. “This enables TBA Global to focus on the strategic aspects of events, such as content and training, and on extending the message from a live event through digital media to a wider audience and over a longer period of time.”
TBA Global retains its marketing and communications offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Detroit, Nashville, Vancouver, Banff, Whistler, and London. The sale included the company’s U.S. DMC operations only, so TBA Global will continue to provide DMC services in Canada and the U.K.
The 67 employees of TBA Global’s U.S. destination management division all are now the staff of Kuoni Destination Management USA. “The branding will change, but the people are the same and the offices are the same,” says Meghan McSkimming, group vice president, insurance and finance, Kuoni Destination Management. “But now instead of nine cities, I can offer my clients 66 global destinations.”
CEO Rossmango addressed the entire staff by conference call on the day the deal was announced. “I told them that I’m very excited. The Kuoni name really means something elsewhere in the world, and it will mean something here. It’s an approach to service and quality, and I’m so happy to introduce it to the U.S. market through a company that has that going for it anyway.”
The two companies will work together during the transition period, though Rossmango says that the goal is for a seamless switchover. “Nothing changes,” she says. “We bought a skill set and an existing, operating company that has its clients and its processes, and will continue to work as they’ve been working.”
Except that they will have a bigger product and audience to sell. With so many clients operating on a global scale, Rossmango points out, using a global destination management company has advantages with regard to contracting and consistency of standards and service levels.