Ottawa's travel 'savant' sells downtown agency to U.S.-based firm

Stock travel photo

A go-to travel agency for Parliament Hill staffers, civil servants and journalists in the nation’s capital for more than two decades is changing hands.

McCord Travel has been bought by Colorado-based Direct Travel, the companies said last week. Terms were not disclosed.

Founded by former Conservative Party staffer Scott McCord in 1999, the business that bears his name – and which accepts new clients by invitation only – has become well-known for its old-school customer service. 

Even in an online age when phone calls with travel agents have gone the way of rotary dialling, McCord Travel’s staffers still prefer to talk to their customers, the founder told OBJ last week. 

McCord’s reputation is such that he was the subject of a glowing profile on Fortune magazine’s website in 2019, with politicians of all stripes hailing him as a “savant” for his ability to reschedule weather-delayed flights and navigate clients safely through a host of travel mishaps.

Greater global reach

McCord said that after 22 years, he felt the time was right to sell. He said Direct Travel, which has 75 locations across North America and the U.K., will bring more resources, technological know-how and global market reach to the table.

McCord is staying on with Direct Travel as its director of customer experience and will continue to oversee operations at the Albert Street agency he founded, which is being rebranded as McCord Travel, a Direct Travel company.

“For our clients, it’s business as usual,” he said. “We’re very excited about the notion that we’re joining a bigger organization with a proven track record and more resources.”

The agency has 15 employees, down from about 30 before COVID. While the pandemic has wreaked havoc with the industry, McCord said business is “ramping up quickly,” with the number of daily bookings nearly tripling since May.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for travel,” he said. “We certainly see things rebounding.”