Chicago travel company AmTrav bought by tech firm TravelPerk

AmTrav is geared toward small and medium-sized U.S. companies, allowing them to book trips, manage payments and expenses, set travel policies and more.

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Headshot of AmTrav CEO Jeff Klee

AmTrav CEO Jeff Klee

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Chicago-based corporate travel company AmTrav has been acquired by TravelPerk, an online business travel platform based in Barcelona, the companies announced on Tuesday.

AmTrav’s platform is geared toward small and medium-sized U.S. companies, allowing them to book trips, manage payments and expenses, set travel policies and more. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The company has 130 employees across Los Angeles and its West Loop office at 1021 W. Adams St. AmTrav will continue to operate independently with no changes to its leadership, according to the company.

TravelPerk’s acquisition of AmTrav doubles its U.S. revenue and gives it more locations in the U.S., in addition to existing locations in Chicago, Boston and Miami.

AmTrav’s “decades-long track record of success in the U.S. will supercharge our growth in the U.S. and around the world,” said TravelPerk CEO Avi Meir, who co-founded the company in 2015.

AmTrav was founded by CEO Jeff Klee and President Craig Fichtelberg. The pair launched a travel business in 1989 from their dorm room at the University of Michigan, in an attempt to “get a free spring break trip,” according to the company’s website. In 1991, they opened the travel call center 1-800-CHEAP-AIR, then launched CheapAir.com in 2001. In 2011, they started AmTrav for business travelers.

Klee said in a statement that “AmTrav’s customers will benefit from TravelPerk’s global reach, scale and culture of innovation.”

In January, Japanese firm Softbank led $70 million of a $104 million investment in TravelPerk, valuing the company at $1.4 billion. Existing investors, including Kinnevik and Felix Capital, were also part of the deal.

TravelPerk also announced Tuesday a new credit facility, a type of ongoing loan, of up to $135 million led by asset managers Blackstone Credit & Insurance and Blue Owl Credit that helped fund its acquisition of AmTrav.

TravelPerk said its purchase of AmTrav reflects the rebound of business travel after it ground to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the U.S. Travel Association said in a forecast, released in January, that slowing economic growth would dampen domestic business travel. The sector has not completely recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The industry group projected that U.S. business travel this year would reach 95% of 2019 levels, up from 89% in 2023.

In a separate January report, the U.S. Travel Association said the U.S. ranked at No. 17 “out of 18 top travel markets, due to decades of underinvestment and a lack of focus and coordination from federal policymakers.”

“While we inch back to pre-pandemic travel numbers, other countries are actively advancing strategies to gain international visitors and are now ahead of the United States in the race to win back the global travel market,” Geoff Freeman, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO, said in the report.

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