Pamela Hurley Moser, who founded a small travel agency in Portland two decades ago and oversaw its growth into a business with $60 million in annual revenue, has sold the agency to a larger travel company based in Denver.

Direct Travel Inc. acquired Hurley Travel Experts, which is headquartered in Portland and has a satellite office in Naples, Florida. The financial details were not disclosed.

Hurley Moser, who founded Hurley Travel Experts in 1993 and remains its CEO, was out of the office and unavailable for comment Monday. Jane Delson, Hurley’s director of business development, confirmed that the company was sold at the end of July. She said it was business as usual there, with all 52 employees, including roughly 30 in the Portland office, keeping their jobs.

Hurley Moser has signed a contract to remain as CEO and president of Hurley Travel Experts for three years, Delson said. The business also will keep its name, although it will add the tagline “a Direct Travel company,” she said.

“For us, the acquisition by Direct Travel has not in any way interfered with our corporate culture or way of doing business,” Delson said. “We’re not getting any edicts from the top down to streamline or cut costs. We’re being encouraged to do what we do best, which is serve clients.”

She said multiple factors led to Hurley Moser’s decision to sell, including a desire to step aside from a business she’s successfully operated for the past 21 years and the opportunity to leverage Direct Travel’s size and resources to take Hurley Travel to the next level.

“I think as with every business,” Delson said, “when you have grown your business from a very small Portland, Maine-based agency to a $60 million agency on two opposite ends of the Eastern Seaboard, there’s a sense of fulfillment that you really created something that was aspirational for many years, and which has come to fruition.”

Direct Travel is able to use its size to secure better negotiated deals with airlines, hotels and other travel-related industries, Delson said.

“I think there’s a point beyond which growth cannot become exponential unless other factors intrude, and in this particular instance in a highly competitive industry like travel where negotiated rates are very pivotal to bottom-line profitability, having the advantage of Direct Travel’s extreme leveraging capacity will make all the difference in Hurley’s future growth,” she said.

Hurley Travel specializes in business and corporate travel, which makes up more than 70 percent of its business. The majority of those clients are Maine-based companies, she said.

While book-it-yourself websites like Kayak and Travelocity have disrupted the travel agency industry, Hurley maintains a significant business by booking vacations for individual clients. In fact, the company’s revenue from personal leisure travel has grown by 25 percent in the past year and a half, Delson said.

“That is rather exponential when you consider the fact it’s on the heels of a once pretty dire recession,” Delson said. “Our growth in that sector was not lost on Direct Travel to be sure.”

Direct Travel has been on an acquisition spree for the past few years, gobbling up five small and mid-size travel agencies with predominantly corporate client bases since 2011. Hurley Travel Experts will be its sixth and will expand the company’s presence in New England.

“We’re in constant acquisition mode,” Amanda Wesley, Direct Travel’s director of corporate communications, said Monday. “The reason we’re here is to grow – organically and through acquisitions. We have a few more (acquisitions) in the works right now. Hurley marks the third this year.”

Wesley confirmed that there are no plans to make any changes at Hurley Travel Experts.

“We really want to keep everything as is,” Wesley said. “One of the reasons we sought them out is they’re such a successful agency with such a stellar reputation in that area of the country.”

Direct Travel was set on its current path by Silver Oak Services Partners, a private equity firm in Evanston, Illinois, that acquired the company in 2011 with the goal of creating a $1.5 billion company through acquisitions and organic growth. The company now employs more than 500 people in several offices throughout the country, including Portland, Wesley said. With the addition of Hurley, Direct Travel’s annual revenue will be roughly $855 million, she said.

Despite the disruptions brought about by the Internet and the aftermath of 9/11, which sunk a lot of smaller travel agencies, Hurley Travel Experts has grown, Delson said, even throughout the recent recession. She expects it to continue to grow with the help of its new corporate parent.

“There’s a point at which there are no hurdles to get over to prove what you’ve accomplished, and (Hurley Moser) is very clearly there,” Delson said. “Hurley Travel Experts has been extremely resilient to market conditions, very inventive in its response and has withstood all vicissitudes that a lot of smaller entrepreneurial agencies just couldn’t withstand.”

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.