BTN Editor Elizabeth West moderates Liberty Mutual’s Michelle DeCosta, ACT’s Jennifer Steinke and Roadmap’s Jeroen van Velzen
technology supplier Lanyon this week announced that it had been acquired by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Lanyon president and CEO Todd
Tyler—who, along with the rest of Lanyon's senior management team, will remain
in his position—spoke with Business Travel News lodging editor Michael B. Baker
about what the acquisition means for the company, which counts more than 725
corporate clients and 340 hotel companies among its clientele.
Does this acquisition provide Lanyon a means to grow?
It really is a whole new game for us. Back in 2009, when we took on the [$10 million] minority investment from Frontier Capital, we thought that was a new game back then. We had little Lanyon back in 2009 taking on an institutional partner. A lot of change came with that. It's been a wonderful ride with Frontier. Now, we see this next step as the next level for us, catapulting us and taking our current momentum and growth trajectory to that next level, which they have a very impressive track record of doing. As a management team and a company, we’re really excited about what they bring to the table to help improve our operational performance and leverage their sets of best practices, which they've refined for well over a decade, to make Lanyon a better company, not just for our employees but for our customers as well.
Does it mean new services or acquisitions are in the cards?
We sit in numerous spaces—both on the demand side and the corporate travel management company side, as well as on the supply side and the hotel side—where we are one of the dominant players, if not the dominant player, and there is a tremendous amount of headroom to grow. With that organic growth, we'll be able to capture a lot of that, and in addition, given the broad horizon we have in our product set, we'll be able to grow those product sets incrementally by bolting on additional items, such as smaller acquisitions or enhancements to our product set, which benefits our customers greatly. They see us as not just a line-item expense but as potentially generating revenue or cost savings, depending on whom you're talking about. We've transformed Lanyon from that small RFP provider back in 2001 to this machine now that has defined the marketplace as it relates to buyers and sellers for hotel rooms. We have competitors across each of our products, but we don't have one common competitor across all our products, which makes us very unique in the industry.
What's your outlook for 2013?
For us, the outlook is really good. We have an odd fiscal year, ending in March, so we look at things very fragmented from a calendar year, but it will be one of our better fiscal years ever. We have one of our fullest pipes that we've seen as well. We have some new products coming out mid-year that we're really excited about.
How about in terms of the industry in general?
The pendulum goes back and forth every two to four years, and that pendulum is definitely coming back. It may have gotten delayed a bit in the later parts of 2012, with a bit of hesitancy and reluctance to spend, but the economic buying signals, the budgets and other factors we see, show it's going to be a fairly good year for everyone.
You were awarded a patent last year for your rate auditing process. Will you be seeking to patent any of your other processes?
We have others that will follow, other innovative ways we are looking at auditing rates, availability and things like that. We have a few more in the pipeline that are coming up. It's fairly intuitive to use in terms of kicking off audits: what you as a TMC want to audit and what your clients want to audit. What's under the hood is a little bit different, in terms of how it operates. It's not a simple screen-scraping technology. We've all seen that going into the green screens and scraping those rates brings back a one-dimensional view of what you've scraped. Lanyon is taking a different approach and going in through the GDS as a conduit and going back to the central reservations system via web services, which allows us to extract a wealth of information at our clients' consent and request. As we started to get into this project years ago, it's what we looked at as innovative as it relates to what's being done today, so we made the decision to protect that innovation by filing a patent. And we continue to do that, looking at our technology as it relates to the rate side of our business, which is just one side of our business. We continue to look at protecting that innovation as we move forward.
Is your technology still in place at most of the major TMCs?
Most of them are our clients. A few of them have their own proprietary technology, and they've decided to move to us not just on the rate auditing side but also on the end-to-end solution of running their [requests for proposals] on the corporate transient side, and combining that with the rate audit piece. It makes a lot of sense for Lanyon, which possesses that domain expertise, to do that soup-to-nuts solution for them.
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