GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO (Thu Mar 15, 2012) — Twenty-eleven was a banner year for Christopherson Business Travel, a corporate travel management company headquartered in Salt Lake City (and the parent company of Andavo Travel, a full-service vacation travel agency). The company finished the year with $287 million in sales, an increase of nearly $50 million over sales from 2010. Christopherson also added nearly 40 new team members last year to support the growth.
“Ultimately, success and growth come from finding the ability to stay relevant in a changing environment,” says Mike Cameron, co-owner and CEO of Christopherson, who was also recently named a 2012 CEO of the Year by Utah Business Magazine. “For us, our ability to find that relevance can be narrowed down to three key principles: the right people plus the right value proposition plus the right incentives. With that simple formula, the only possible result is growth.”
THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Because of Christopherson’s dedication to excellence, the company continues to attract the best travel professionals in the industry, who each possess, on average, more than 20 years of travel-related experience. Christopherson maintains an employee turnover rate of less than 3 percent annually among its travel professionals, which is well below the industry average of 20 percent.
“Employing great people means finding those professionals who know their craft and know it well,” Cameron says. “They are the ones you can rely upon to provide expert recommendations, make sound decisions, and execute the strategic business plans. At Christopherson, we have been fortunate to surround ourselves with an amazing team of ‘the right people.'”
THE RIGHT VALUE PROPOSITION
When Cameron and his wife, Camille, first purchased Christopherson in 1990, the decision was made to focus solely on business travel. This, Cameron felt, was where the company could excel, but in doing so, they would also need to determine a unique value proposition that would differentiate Christopherson from the competition. That value was found in three areas of the company – their travel agents, their account management, and the development of their technology.
“We are relentless in our evaluation of the services we provide to clients through our agents, our account managers, and our proprietary technology,” Cameron says. “We then use those evaluations to continue creating innovative travel management solutions to meet our client’s needs and exceed their expectations.”
In March 2010, the Camerons purchased Andavo Travel, which they now run as the vacation travel and independent contractor division of the company (more than 70 agents across the country).
THE RIGHT INCENTIVES
Christopherson maintains the mentality that the more the company does to help others, the better everyone will do in return. With this in mind, employees are hired with salaries higher than industry averages, pay incentives for customer satisfaction and agency productivity, a generous 401K retirement program, and flexible work arrangements.
“It’s about sharing the wealth,” Cameron says. “If you are willing to provide financial rewards and align them with good performance, amazing things can happen. The pie actually gets bigger. Some call this the ‘abundance theory.’ I call it the right way to do business.”