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Chris Thelen invests in heritage-brand TMC Eton Travel

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Bold move by TakeTwo CEO to save jobs and ensure continuity of service to Eton clients.

Chris Thelen, entrepreneur and CEO of TMC start-up TakeTwo Travel Solutions, announced that he has acquired Eton Travel Group, a travel management company headquartered in Eton, Berkshire.

Eton Travel Group is an independent, full-service travel management company and has been providing services to SME clients from the pharmaceutical, IT, finance, retail, manufacturing, legal and consulting industries for 53 years. Pre-Covid the company had a turnover of £40m. As well as corporate travel, the company provides specialist services for VIPs, MICE, entertainment travel and luxury holidays. Eton is a member of The Business Travel Association, Advantage Travel Group and Amex GBT’s Travel Partner Network. The company operates three premises: Eton and Wokingham in Berkshire, UK as well as Cork in Ireland.

Like many travel companies, Eton’s business has been significantly impacted by the travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid pandemic. Chris Thelen has stepped in to support the TMC, to save jobs and talent whilst ensuring continuity of service to its clients.

Eton will continue to operate under the same brand as a separate business from TakeTwo.

As part of the acquisition, Ken Thompson, Managing Director, Eton Travel Group will step down and retire.  The new senior team for Eton Travel Group compromises:

  • Martin Boone (formerly Director) who is promoted to General Manager of the Group
  • Chris Klinker (formerly Director) who becomes Head of Speciality Sales, Eton’s group air fulfilment division
  • Alison Rodgers (formerly Manager of Detonate) will become Head of VIP and Entertainment
  • Kay Fleet (previously IT & Systems Manager) becomes Head of Technology & Special Projects
  • Joan Budgen (previously Manager Leisure Travel) who will be Head of Luxury Leisure.

The senior team will report to Chris Thelen.

Chris Thelen said: “I’m passionate about the business travel industry and the people and brands within it. Eton is an established brand with a solid reputation, it’s a great company with exceptional staff. I’ve been impressed with the senior team and have been working with them for some time to find a way to preserve the business and save as many jobs as possible. The emergence of the Omicron variant has brought fresh challenges in recent weeks to the entire business travel industry. However, I am fully committed to Eton. I believe Eton has a strong future and I want it to succeed and thrive again as travel continues to recover in 2022.

“It will be business as usual at Eton as the company continues to operate under its own brand with its own sales strategies, partners and customers,” explained Thelen. “However, Eton clients will benefit from a significant uplift in service as I will be investing in technology, maximising the opportunities presented by Eton’s office in Ireland and we’ll have a renewed focus on all partnerships.”

Ken Thompson, Eton Managing Director said: “I’m incredibly proud of Eton Travel and the stellar reputation it’s gained with loyal customers over 53 years. Of course, we couldn’t have had such success without the team behind it all and I’d like to thank each of them for their commitment over the years but especially in the last 21 months which has been so challenging for us all.

“This feels like the right time for me to take a step back and so I will retire as MD of Eton Travel Group. I’m happy to be leaving the business in such safe hands with Chris Thelen and my fellow senior team. Chris is a dynamic leader with proven success in corporate travel and I know Eton has an exciting future with him at the helm. I wish Chris and the Eton Travel team all the best for the future.”

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