Elizabeth Topazio, Active Travel

Elizabeth Topazio

Financial Benefits for Travelers and Hoteliers

Editors’ Note

Prior to joining Active in 1994, Liz Topazio was an M&A associate at Orloff, Lowenbach in New Jersey from 1992 to1994, and at Dechert LLP from 1988 to 1992 in Pennsylvania. She’s a member of the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania bars and graduated from Villanova University Law School in 1988 with a J.D., cum laude and Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with a B.S.F.S., magna cum laude. She participates in a variety of charitable endeavors and is on the Advisory Board for Animal Alliance of New Jersey.

How does the travel department function within Active International?

We serve multiple functions, but the first is the connection with our media business. Our core product is media and the original mandate of travel was to help to create trading inventory to satisfy trade obligations with our media partners.

However, the travel department has evolved over time. As our client base started growing, we determined that there was an opportunity to satisfy trade credits for our clients and to become a resource for their corporate travel needs.

Today, we’re tapping into the leisure markets via the employees of our clients by creating new offerings based on our trading model. We don’t discount and we don’t create channel conflict with our hospitality partners; rather, we create new sales opportunities and new distribution channels that provide value to travelers, and maintain brand and rate integrity for our hoteliers. As a result, we have become sought after by hoteliers.

Without going into too much detail, we’ve created programs that allow us to place our group business at hotels 100 percent in cash at their prevailing rates whenever they purchase media, goods, and services from us in cash. At the same time, we provide another way for our clients to use their trade credits. Basically, I incent my client to choose a hotel within our porfotlio for their group meeting by offering the client the use of its trade credits to displace a portion of the cost of the meeting. Our clients are able to negotiate rates and concessions directly with the hotel, so they are assured they are getting the very best rates and that their trade credits, when applied to pay partially the cost of their meeting, have measurable value. This moves market share into that hotel and the hotel gets paid 100 percent in cash by us for the group. It’s a win-win proposition for everyone involved.

In addition to improving the hotel’s occupancy, it improves the hotel’s RevPAR (Revenue per Available Room) and maintains their ADR (Average Daily Rate). Group business in the hotels creates a compression that increases ADR so it also improves their ability to get a higher rate on leisure travel.

Is the fit for you the larger meeting-type hotels or all types of hotels and levels of client?

We usually stay in the three-star and above category, and look for hotels with meeting space, but as our client base has grown, we realized that we could provide a broader suite of options.

For example, we looked at clients that had heavy retail businesses that utilize a lot of trucking, and we created programs in one- or two-star hotel chains for them.

There is an ability, given the diversity and complexion of our client base, to build markets for all of our hotel clients.

Many might perceive the value in barter only during challenging times when occupancy is low, but your service seems to have value at any time.

True. Hotels don’t budget every month for 100 percent occupancy. Once we start the discussion with hotels along that line, we are opening up a whole new concept: we’re offering the ability to help them exceed their budgets for occupancy and, with our new all-cash trading programs, also for revenues/profits.•