Michael Batt is the Founder and Chairman of Travel Leaders Group, a North American travel company that generates gross travel sales of approximately $20 billion and directly employs over 1,000 staff managing operations of more than 6,500 company-owned, franchised and affiliated travel agencies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. Today, Travel Leaders Group has over 40,000 travel agents working directly for the organization or under one of its brands.
Prior to his role as Founder and Chairman of Travel Leaders Group, Mr. Batt served as an executive with Carlson Companies where he was President of Carlson Leisure Group (CLG) and a Board member of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. He joined Carlson in 1996 and was responsible for leisure travel operations in the US for 11 years as well as Carlson's investment in the Thomas Cook Group in the UK. Under Mr. Batt, CLG grew significantly with sales growing from a combined $2 billion in 1996 to over $5 billion in 2007. In January 2008, Mr. Batt led a management buyout of Carlson Leisure Group, and in April 2008, secured investment support and partnership with One Equity Partners – the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase. The company has subsequently merged with Tzell Travel (ranked number one in Business Travel news ranking of US business travel agencies), and acquired Nexion (now a group of over 3,300 home-based agents), and Vacation.com – the largest leisure US travel seller with over 5,300 travel agency members. Most recently, Travel Leaders Group completed the merger of Tzell with Protravel International, Inc. in December 2012.
Before joining Carlson, Mr. Batt was Executive Vice President, sales and marketing for Alamo Rent-A-Car. He was responsible for worldwide sales and marketing for the car rental giant. Prior to Alamo, Mr. Batt served as Marketing Director (and member of the executive board) of British Airways where he was responsible for all advertising and promotion, product development and delivery of service standards (1987-1994). Mr. Batt started his business career working for M and M Mars, enjoying a 12-year tenure with the company in various sales and brand management positions working in the United Kingdom, Spain, Africa and the Middle East.
Mr. Batt was inducted into the British Travel Industry Hall of Fame in 2014. Mr. Batt is a native of the United Kingdom and holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Materials from the University of Wales.
Ninan Chacko, CTC, serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Travel Leaders Group, a North American travel company that generates gross travel sales of approximately $20 billion and directly employs over 1,000 staff managing operations of more than 6,500 company-owned, franchised and affiliated travel agencies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland and Australia. Today, Travel Leaders Group has over 40,000 travel agents working directly for the organization or under one of its brands. Based in New York City, Mr. Chacko also serves on the Board of Directors for Travel Leaders Group.
Prior to joining Travel Leaders Group, Mr. Chacko provided highly respected, visionary and innovative leadership as Chief Executive Officer of PR Newswire, the global leader of communications and marketing solutions that enables organizations to monitor conversations, create content, and actively engage with key audiences across traditional, digital, social and mobile channels. During his tenure, PR Newswire enjoyed significant organic growth from product innovation and international expansion.
Before joining PR Newswire in 2009, Mr. Chacko served as Chief Commercial Officer of Worldspan, the worldwide travel information, e-commerce and technology service provider. In this role, he was responsible for sales, marketing, operations, service and support activities for customers and partners in over 60 countries, including Tzell, Travel Leaders Corporate and Travel Leaders Franchise Group. Mr. Chacko was a founding member of the buyout consortium management team that acquired Worldspan from Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and American Airlines, and served as Chief Commercial Officer until its sale to Travelport.
Prior to Worldspan, Mr. Chacko spent more than 13 years with Sabre Holdings, a leading supplier of distribution and technology solutions to the travel industry. As Senior Vice President, he led the development, launch and operation of Sabre's hotel merchant business in the travel agency channel and the creation and execution of Sabre's consortia network strategy to influence and monetize travel retailing. During his time with Sabre, he served in a variety of leadership roles, including Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Sabre Travel Network and Senior Vice President of Global Services.
Mr. Chacko began his career with System One Corporation before joining American Airlines.
Throughout his career, Mr. Chacko has served on a number of boards, and he currently serves on two, including for the Center for Public Integrity (Washington, DC), a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization; and also on the advisory board for Leaders Quest (London, UK), a social enterprise that works with leaders to create a more equitable and sustainable world.
Mr. Chacko earned both his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS). More recently, he also completed Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program and the London Business School's Spencer Stuart Directors' Forum. Mr. Chacko also earned his Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) from The Travel Institute.
Mr. Lovell is responsible for the strategic operations, sales, marketing and overall growth of Travel Leaders Group's travel agency franchise businesses, including Results! Travel and the flagship Travel Leaders brand; the company's travel agency consortium, Vacation.com; and all of the company's wholly-owned leisure businesses, including All Aboard Travel, Cruise Holidays, Cruise Specialists, CruiseDeals.com, Elite Journeys, Luxury Travel Network and SinglesCruise.com.
Prior to taking on responsibilities for all of Travel Leaders Group's franchise and leisure operations, Mr. Lovell first served as the President of Vacation.com, a role he has maintained since 2011. In addition to his role as President of Travel Leaders Franchise, Consortia and Leisure, Mr. Lovell is a member of the Board of Directors for both the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and Tourism Cares. He also serves on numerous Advisory Boards, including Marriott International, Azamara Club Cruises, Travel Insured International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, among others.
Roger E. Block is president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, part of Travel Leaders Group, a North American travel company that generates gross travel sales of approximately $20 billion and includes over 1,000 company-owned and franchised travel agencies in the United States, Ireland and Greece. Travel Leaders Franchise Group is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Travel Leaders Group is also based.
In his current role, Mr. Block oversees the strategic development and growth of the Travel Leaders Associate Program and Results! Travel, both of which include hundreds of full-service, retail travel agencies throughout the U.S., Ireland and Greece. These franchise locations include a mix of both business and leisure travel. Highlighting its success, the Travel Leaders Franchise Group continues to maintain its edge as the leading travel franchisor in North America. In 2014 for the 19th consecutive year, a Travel Leaders Franchise Group brand was ranked #1 among all full-service travel agencies in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500®.
While the Travel Leaders Franchise Group and Travel Leaders names are relatively new, they have their origins as the Carlson franchise system for "Ask Mr. Foster Travel" – which itself was North America's first travel agency chain established in 1888. In 1991, Ask Mr. Foster changed its name to Carlson Travel Network and in 1997 (to reflect the merger of Carlson Travel Network with Wagonlit Travel) the franchised agencies were rechristened as Carlson Wagonlit Travel. That same year, Travel Agents International locations throughout the United States were merged into Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates. Now known as Travel Leaders, the brand has quickly grown to become one of the nation's top five travel brands with a local presence across the country.
What is now known as Travel Leaders Franchise Group was spun off from travel and hospitality company, Carlson, in January 2008. Mr. Block led Travel Leaders Franchise Group through this enormous change. Mr. Block had served as Executive Vice President of Carlson Travel Franchise Group, responsible for the company's travel franchise operations, including what is now Travel Leaders, Cruise Holidays, Results! Travel and SeaMaster Cruises brands. Under Mr. Block, over a thousand locations were added to the franchise system network.
In addition to his leadership within Travel Leaders Franchise Group, Mr. Block currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and is also on ASTA's Executive Committee as its Chairman. He has been on the ASTA Board since 2012. Mr. Block was one of three founding members and founding officer of ASTA's Corporate Advisory Committee (CAC) and served as its Treasurer from 2003 to 2005, its Vice Chairman from 2005 to 2007 and its Chairman from 2007 to 2009. Additionally, in tandem with his prior CAC leadership role, Mr. Block previously served on the ASTA Board from 2005 to 2009 and served as an ASTA Executive Committee member from 2007-2009. Previously, Mr. Block served on the board of trustees of ICTA, now The Travel Institute.
Mr. Block joined Carlson in 1997 following the acquisition of Travel Agents International (TAI) by Carlson Leisure Group, into which most TAI franchisees converted. Mr. Block was the Chairman, President and Founder of TAI. Before TAI, Block was Senior Vice President, Director and Corporate Treasurer of Community Banks of Florida, Inc., with responsibility for fund management of the Holding Company banks.
Prior to joining Travel Leaders Franchise Group, Mike Boult held various senior executive-level corporate roles including Chief Commercial Officer at Lanyon, President and CEO of StarCite, and Founder and CEO of eCLIPSE Advisors – where he developed and deployed new spend management solutions for airline, hospitality and car rental categories for 200 multinational clients. He spent 12 years with Rosenbluth International; six years as Senior Vice President of Global Supplier and Network Partner Relations. In this capacity in 2000, he developed and launched myTRAVELBID.com – the first dedicated online travel spend exchange.
He has twice been named by Business Travel News (2007 & 2008) as one of the "25 Most Influential Executives in Business Travel". In 2008, Bloomberg Businessweek recognized his achievements in streamlined Meeting Payments as one of their "Top 50 Global Innovations". In 2007, he was named by Emerald E3 Asset Management as "Entrepreneur of the Year". In 2001, he received The Communicators Award for "Best Business Whitepaper". In 1993, he proposed a streamlined corporate discounting strategy for Intel that was first implemented with America West Airlines. This rationalized "Net Fare" pricing structure has ultimately transformed the entire airline/distributor/customer relationship.
Jeremy Van Kuyk, PMP,spearheads the development and implementation of technology programs at Travel Leaders, such as the award-winning Agent Profiler, the company's proprietary online lead-generation system for travel agents; and InteGREAT Enterprise, an award-winning, comprehensive technology suite of programs that help travel agents promote and sell their services. Based in Plymouth, MN, Van Kuyk reports directly to Travel Leaders Franchise Group President Roger E. Block, CTC, as well as to Travel Leaders Group COO and Chief Information Officer Dave Zitur.
Van Kuyk steadily rose through the Travel Leaders ranks after joining the company as an associate business analyst in November 2000, not long after obtaining a degree in Business Computer Information Systems from St. Cloud State University. Since then, he obtained a certification in the Project Management Profession and a Masters Certification in Business Analysis. He currently manages 16 full-time employees at Travel Leaders Franchise Group, North America's largest network of franchise travel agencies with more than 1,000 system-wide full-service franchised locations.