"I am extremely pleased with our company's performance in 1997. Our employees did a wonderful job of growing our businesses. If it's not too early to look ahead, we also are expecting continued expansion in 1998, which is an historic year for us," said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Carlson Companies Vice Chair and Chief Operating Officer. "We are proud of our company's accomplishments over the last 60 years, and we are prepared to meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century."
"I attribute our successes in 1997 to the dedication of our worldwide workforce under Marilyn's leadership and guidance," said company Founder, Chairman and CEO Curtis L. Carlson. "The focus on high-quality customer service and products has been outstanding and has set the pace for growth in the future."
"The corporation is among the largest privately held companies in the
world. With operations in 141 countries, it is a recognized leader in consumer
and corporate solutions based in the hospitality, travel and marketing
industries. The company's brands provide employment for more than 147,000
people worldwide. The number of employees on the direct Carlson Companies
payroll is more than 40,000, with about 7,000 of them in the Twin Cities
area of Minnesota.
Regent International Hotels
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises
Country Inns & Suites By Carlson
T.G.I. Friday's, Friday's Front Row Sports Grill,
Friday's American Bar, Italianni's
Carlson Hospitality Worldwide Procurement Group
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Gold Points Plus
Carlson Companies, Inc.
Today the company's brands include Regent International Hotels; Radisson Hotels Worldwide; Country Inns Suites By Carlson; Radisson Seven Seas Cruises; T.G.I. Friday's, Italianni's, AquaKnox and Star Canyon restaurants; Carlson Wagonlit Travel (co-owmed with Accor of Paris, France); Travel Agents International; Carlson Worldchoice, a wholly owned leisure travel company in the U.K.; a substantial interest in U.K.-based Caledonian Airways, and Carlson Marketing Group, ranked as the largest integrated marketing services company in the United States by Advertising Age Magazine.
Carlson Hospitality Worldwide (CHW) --
In 1997, the hotel, restaurant and cruise ship group of Carlson enjoyed the most successful year in its history. The group substantially exceeded its financial growth projections while adding one new location approximately every three days throughout the year. Year-end results show Carlson Hospitality Worldwide's 1997 sales grew by 23 percent over the previous year, and cash flow from operations increased more than 50 percent. The business group added 126 new lodging and restaurant locations worldwide, bringing the year-end total to 951 locations in 60 countries.
The expansion includes the acquisition of the five-star luxury Regent International Hotels from Four Seasons Hotels, and the addition of 36 Radisson Hotels nationally and internationally. In addition, Country Inns Suites By Carlson, the company's mid-tier hotel chain, had explosive growth in 1997, with a 37 percent increase in new locations, including its first hotel in Panama City.
CHW restaurant and cruise line operations also grew in 1997. Same-store sales at T.G.I. Friday's increased 3.8 percent in 1997, compared with the overall industry, which had relative flat sales. Carlson Restaurants Worldwide brands, including Italianni's, Friday's Front Row Sports Grill and Friday's American Bar, expanded to 466 locations. Radisson Seven Seas Cruises added its fourth ship, the 320-passenger m/s Paul Gauguin based in Tahiti.
Carlson Leisure Group (CLG) --
This Carlson group, responsible for the company's leisure travel operations, experienced a nearly 20 percent revenue increase in 1997 and counted among its major initiative acquisitions of International Franchise Group, the parent company of Travel Agents International (T.A.I.), based in St. Petersburg, Florida, and U.K.-based Inspirations plc.
Through the acquisitions, the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate program
became the largest travel agency
franchiser in North America with more than 1,000 franchise locations. The number of Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate locations increased by 30.5 percent in 1997.
Carlson Leisure Group's U.K.-based leisure travel agency network, A.T. Mays, changed its name to Carlson Worldchoice in 1997. About 400 agencies affiliated with ARTAC WorldChoice, A.T. Mays' alliance partner, will change their name to Worldchoice and more than 1,000 travel agencies will use the Carlson Worldchoice or WorldChoice brand by April 1998. Carlson Worldchoice revenues increased by approximately 8 percent in 1997. In addition, Carlson Leisure Group now owns 100 percent of Inspirations (U.K.) tour operations and travel agencies, and a significant stake in Caledonian Airways, marking Carlson's entry into the airline industry. The past year was also one of technological innovation for Carlson Leisure Group, which unveiled a multi-tiered technology product, including a new Internet site called EnQuest and an Extranet called Mercavia. EnQuest includes an on-line travel booking system for consumers who register with local Associate agencies that complete the travel arrangements, and Mercavia enhances communications between the company and its Associates to help increase their sales.
GoldPoints Plus (GPP) --
This new venture, launched by Curtis L. Carlson in January 1997, has been likened to the successful Gold Bond trading stamp business of years past, but updated for the electronic age. Shoppers use the wallet-sized Gold Points card to electronically accumulate points on their purchases. Consumers can redeem their points for free travel, receive discounts on items purchased, or select from a catalog containing hundreds of products and services. More than 420 retail partners, including Rainbow Foods, MCI and Norwest Banks, currently participate in the program. About 550,000 consumers currently use the card in the Twin Cities test market, and the program is expected to grow nationally within the next three years.
Carlson Marketing Group (CMG) --
Carlson's marketing services company (and the direct descendant of Gold Bond Stamp Company expanded its global presence in 1997 through aggressive acquisition. The group's sales increased 12 percent in 1997 and profits increased by 33 percent over 1996 results.
It acquired both Aegis Marketing, a United Kingdom performance improvement company based in Daventry, England; and Incentive Dimensions, a San Francisco-based incentive travel, event management and production company.
Aegis provides a broad range of services to U.K. clients, including performance improvement consulting, print communication design and production, awards fulfillment, and incentive travel programs. The Aegis acquisition enhances Carlson Marketing Group's existing client base in the U.K. with the addition of Aegis clients Barclays Bank, Volkswagen, Shell, Nissan and Honda.
Clients of Incentive Dimensions include a significant number of technology-related
companies, and the
acquisition positions Carlson Marketing Group as the premier provider of travel and marketing services in the Western United States.
Among the world's top agencies, Carlson Marketing Group ranked 18th
in Advertising Age's annual agency
survey in 1997. Among U.S. agencies, the group ranked 13th. As the largest integrated marketing company in the United States, Carlson Marketing Group's services include concept development, creative strategy and execution, database marketing, loyalty marketing and fulfillment services. The group's integrated marketing approach also provides direct mail, promotion, loyalty and new media services.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) --
In its first official year of operating as a merged entity, the combined
business travel interests company of
Carlson Companies and Paris, France-based Accor, met profit goals, exceeded sales objectives and won several new global accounts, including Seagram ($470 million in travel expenses over three years), KLA-Tencor, Pearson and Global One.
The Corporate Card, which Carlson Wagonlit Travel offers in the United States, Canada, France and Denmark, was modified in 1997 to include a new Choice Plus Reward Program, providing customers with points redeemable for travel, other services and merchandise. Carlson Wagonlit and several partners are, piloting a "small card" version of The Corporate Card, enabling airline passengers to board without a paper ticket.
Carlson Wagonlit also enhanced its ActOne(SM) suite of travel and expense
management products through
various partnerships. TransAct 2.0(SM), the corporate expense management product, incorporated Captura
Software, Inc.'s Employee Payables(TM) software to create the most advanced client/server-based expense
management system available. Through a strategic alliance with the SABRE Group, Carlson Wagonlit is
integrating the SABRE Group's Travel Planner module as an engine for the Solo Act(SM) self-booking product.