Transat A.T. Inc. became a large international tour operator by implementing a vertical integration strategy that, although not unique, places the organization among select companies in North America. Through a combination of dynamic internal growth and strategic acquisitions, Transat has increased its annual sales from $23 million at the close of its first fiscal year to nearly $3 billion in 2016.
Transat came into being in the early 1980s when a handful of passionate people, led by Jean-Marc Eustache, Lina De Cesare and Philippe Sureau, created Trafic Voyages, a wholesaler specializing in sales to Quebec consumers of travel to France in summer, and to Sun destinations in winter.
In 1987, the Company made a great leap with the adoption of a forward-looking vision focused on growth and vertical integration. The company, renamed Transat, was listed on the stock exchange and raised $8.25 million, enabling it to start up its own air carrier, Air Transat. Transat began a series of acquisitions in order to consolidate its tour operating business, expand its distribution network, and develop new destination markets.
Acquiring various tour operators including Vacances Multitour in 1987, Voyages Tourbec and British Airways Holidays in 1989, Nolitours in 1993, and Rêvatours in 2003, all grouped under Transat Tours Canada, the Company became a Canadian leader in Sun destinations, and offered unparalleled services to Europe.
Transat rounded out its customer service offering by establishing a presence in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Florida through such destination services companies as Trafic Tours, Turissimo and Transat Holidays USA.
Transat also strengthened its presence in retail distribution in Canada, notably by acquiring an interest in franchisor Consultour/Club Voyages in 1988 and purchasing Thomas Cook’s Canadian travel agency network in 2006. This latest transaction has made Transat the largest network of travel agencies in the country, managed by business unit Transat Distribution Canada. TDC comprises more than 450 owned, franchisee and affiliate agencies under the brands Transat Travel/Voyages Transat, Club Voyages, Voyages en Liberté, Marlin Travel and Travel Plus.
Over the years, Transat explored other markets and facets of the tourism industry, acquiring business units that it later sold for the purpose of improving profitability or refocusing operations. These included Handlex, an airport ground services firm, France-based tour operator Look Voyages (later to become a brand of Transat France) and two incoming tour operators, Greece-based Tourgreece, and Jonview Canada.
In addition, after 10 years managing a 1,600-room joint venture with the major Spanish chain H10 Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Transat sold its minority interest in 2017 with the goal of creating its own hotel chain. However, Transat discontinued the operations of its hotel division in 2021, due to the decline in liquidity related to the COVID-19 pandemic and in link with the objectives of its new 2022-2026 strategic plan.