50 Most Admired Companies of The Year 2018

An Interview with Ed Adams, Direct Travel CEO: ‘What We Do at Direct Travel Goes Beyond’


“Our specific focus on the mid-market means our travel experts deliver personalized service to every client.”

The modern business traveler survives in an era of accessible, cost-effective and powerful technology that focuses on customization, multi-channel hyper-connectivity and personalization. They are engaged with personal social channels and work platforms simultaneously. Travel suppliers and retailers have started investing heavily in giving travelers what they want, when they want and where they want. All of which leads to a comfortable, enjoyable and seamless travel experience.

In light of the above-mentioned scenario, we are thrilled to present Direct Travel.

Direct Travel is a leading provider of corporate travel management services, established with the goal to create a best-in-class TMC. The company has been providing travel management services for over 40 years; working with clients to develop highly customized travel programs. By leveraging both the expertise of its people and innovative solutions, Direct Travel enables clients to derive the greatest value from their travel program in terms of superior service, progressive technologies, and significant cost savings.

The company offers full-service performance improvement solutions, including meeting and event management, group incentive travel and individual recognition solutions through its wholly owned subsidiary Creative Group.

Direct Travel is headquartered in Centennial, Colorado and has over 90 locations across North America. Globally, they have over 190 locations in more than 50 countries.

Ed Adams, Direct Travel CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Ultimately, we exist because we saw a void in the marketplace: middle market accounts were too big for some of the smaller regional agencies and the mega agency simply can’t customize and personalize to the level the middle market customer needs. What these companies needed was a good middle market fit, and that’s exactly where we are able to step in and deliver.

Our executive team of key stakeholders came together from a group of long-tenured and experienced leaders from the world’s best managed travel agencies to build something different, with the ultimate goal to create a best-in-class TMC through acquisition and organic growth.

Providing travel management services now for several decades, today we are the only TMC of our size that truly fills that mid-market void—and we are specifically built to respond to the unique needs of this market.

Q. What challenges do you face?

Our principal challenge is in maintaining the precise balance between where we invest in developing solutions as the industry rockets forward and maintaining the same levels of service we’re known for. 

To ensure the highest levels of service, we operate via a dual approach to technology—that is, a blend of proprietary tools/processes, combined with carefully researched best-in-market solutions. This ultimately means that our clients are always receiving relevant and current technologies that will best suit their needs.

Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your company’s excellent reputation?

We deliver exceptional, personalized customer service no matter the size of your account. We operate with a regional approach to client management so the travel professionals you are dealing with are in your backyard.

Bottom line, we realize that we’re dealing with road warriors; we’re helping to transport talented people from A to B. These are travelers with families, personal lives, and important jobs to do—and we’ve been given the opportunity to keep them moving seamlessly and safely.

It’s this important understanding that has built our reputation; one of high-touch service and proactive, strategic guidance for our clients’ programs overall.

Q. A company’s behavior is as important as its economic performance or the quality of its products. How do you interpret this saying?

When a company’s behavior does not live up to even basic ethical standards, economic performance and the quality of the offering will eventually suffer.

At Direct Travel, we know this isn’t a perfect world, which is why a foundation of honest, ethical practices is absolutely paramount, and the guiding principle in all we do. We’re honest with ourselves, our clients—and we deliver on our promises. And when we operate within a framework of honesty, we foster trust.

We are intensely proud of what we’re doing, but we also recognize that we’re not perfect, we don’t make excuses when something goes wrong. If we made the mistake, we own it—and we make it right. Our strong relationships with our vendors ensure we resolve the situation faster than the traveler can do on their own.

Q. Leaders cannot optimize results by themselves; they need employees’ support and assistance. How does your company interpret this saying?

We are intensely proud of the talent on our leadership team. As previously stated, our executive team consists of key stakeholders who came together from some of the world’s best and most recognized TMCs in order to truly change the way we sell and provide business travel.

With that said, these leaders absolutely rely on and place their trust in the valued employees who help bring these great plans to fruition. We believe that our employees are the backbone of all we do. We foster an environment of work/life balance and encourage our employees to temper their hard work with hard-earned rest. When our employees are taken care of, they are in turn able to better care for the clients we serve—allowing our clients to do what they do best.

“We are a travel management company that provides an aerial view of your program. We map out your business travel, pinpoint gaps and blueprint solutions that lead to results.”