The launch of a new travel management company, TakeTwo Travel Solutions has been announced in the UK and Europe, with ambitious plans already underway for expansion in the US.
The driving force behind the start-up are two of the industry’s most dynamic and experienced professionals, Chris Thelen, in the role of CEO and Julie Cope, as Managing Director.
TakeTwo’s vision is to provide high-level personalised global travel services to international SME corporations and road warriors, where travel is a crucial component of their business operations, as well as a premium service to high-net-worth individuals. TakeTwo aims to fill the market gap for a multi-national, independent TMC providing experienced hands-on support to corporates, particularly with traveller wellbeing and sustainability, as they resume travel following the pandemic.
The TMC is also determined to protect jobs and retain talent that would otherwise be lost from the industry following widespread redundancies due to the pandemic. TakeTwo is passionate about preserving the skills required to truly support buyers, bookers and travellers as they navigate the complexities of the new post-Covid era of business travel.
Whilst customer relationships and experienced personal service lie at the core of TakeTwo’s offering, the TMC will also introduce powerful travel-centric technology to suit each customer’s needs.
Chris Thelen has an unparalleled three-decade track record in the TMC sector. In 2004 he was responsible for the management buy-out of Chambers Travel Group. As CEO and majority shareholder he spearheaded Chambers’ growth over the next ten years to become the leading pan-European TMC. In 2015 he led the sale and merger of Chambers with Corporate Travel Management (CTM). During four years as CEO of CTM’s US business he was responsible for the company’s North America technology hub and oversaw integration of seven acquisitions. He left CTM in 2020 to return to the UK.
Julie Cope’s extensive 35-year career in business travel includes high-level managerial and operational roles at CTM, Chambers Travel Group, Hillgate Travel and Egencia. As European Operations Director at Chambers – where Cope worked closely with Thelen - her achievements include record client retention, tangible travel programme efficiencies and innovative client servicing solutions. Following the company’s acquisition, she became CTM’s General Manager UK responsible for 150 staff across operations, account management and support functions.
TakeTwo is starting out with 20 staff in the UK/Europe and each of its highly-skilled consultants have around two decades’ experience in business travel, unrivalled knowledge and exceptional customer service expertise.
The TMC already has a UK/Europe-based client portfolio with a pre-Covid spend of £11.5M and a new business pipeline in the region of £40M. TakeTwo’s presence in the US is also in final planning stages with an announcement due before the end of the year.
Chris Thelen, CEO, TakeTwo commented: “Our reason for launching TakeTwo is because there is a clear gap in the market for a client-centric, independently owned TMC who can deliver bespoke service to international SME clients where travel is vital component of how their business operates, well as provide premium services to high-net-worth individuals. After so many recent TMC mergers, acquisitions and staff redundancies due to the pandemic, I question whether corporates feel that their existing TMC knows them personally anymore or what they need, as travel returns. In the post Covid era, these clients need confidence that their TMC partner understands their needs and can deliver high touch, personal service from highly-experienced people. They are also looking for a TMC to mitigate risk, alleviate traveller wellbeing concerns and one who takes sustainability seriously.
“However, another reason for establishing TakeTwo is to safeguard talent in the business travel industry and create jobs for highly-experienced business travel professionals who had been made redundant by former employers. We are passionate about reversing the business travel talent drain and preventing these extremely skilled people from being lost to other industry sectors. These are the foundations on which TakeTwo has been created,” he explained.
Julie Cope, MD, TakeTwo added: “We are very excited to officially announce the launch of Take Two and have recruited a team of highly-skilled individuals with a proven track record and exceptional skills, many of whom Chris and I have worked with in the past, saving these talented people from leaving the industry.
“TakeTwo also already has significant client business under its belt, managing travel for companies and high net worth individuals who require high touch, exceptional service. Travel industry success stories from the Covid-era are extremely rare, but that’s where TakeTwo aims to buck the trend. We are looking forward to expanding the business further, particularly in the US in the coming months, and consolidating our position in the market,” said Cope.