January 01, 2019
An Interview with Elizabeth A. Topazio, President and Chief Legal Officer, Active Travel
Elizabeth A. Topazio is President and Chief Legal Officer of Active Travel, a division of Active International. She has more than 25 years of business and legal experience negotiating and structuring corporate trading transactions. Prior to joining Active in 1994, she was an M&A associate at Orloff, Lowenbach in New Jersey from 1992 to 1994, and at Dechert LLP in Pennsylvania from 1988 to 1992. Topazio is a member of the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania bars and graduated from Villanova University Law School with a J.D., cum laude, and Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with a B.S.F.S., magna cum laude. She participates in a variety of charitable endeavors and is on the Advisory Board for Animal Alliance of New Jersey.
With 35 years of experience, Active International (activeinternational.com) is a global financial solutions company that drives performance and improves business outcomes for leading brands. A data-driven company, with media as a core competency, Active operates a full-service omnichannel media agency. In addition to media, Active brings to bear a broad portfolio of competencies such as Asset Disposition/Merchandise Sales, Real Estate, Retail Marketing, Travel and Hospitality, Freight & Logistics, and Lighting. Through the application of its core business model, Active is able to create financial benefits to serve its clients. Active International is based in New York and has offices in 15 countries.
Will you discuss the solutions Active Travel provides and how these offerings have evolved to the current needs of clients?
Active Travel uses corporate trading to provide commercially agile solutions for its hospitality clients so that they can achieve more. Generally speaking, our hospitality clients include travel suppliers (predominately hotel owners, REITs, and management companies as well as airlines, rental car companies and cruise lines), major hotel brands, and company clients purchasing travel. Since for the past 8 years the hospitality industry has enjoyed a trend of record growth and increasing ADR and occupancy, while at the same time having to adapt to significant marketplace disruptors, including emerging digital technologies and evolving consumer mindsets and behaviors, we have had to continually adapt our solutions to stay aligned with our clients’ respective evolving needs, challenges and goals.
For our travel supplier clients, which historically engaged in traditional corporate trading by using their unoccupied/unsold inventory as “in kind” payment for needed media, goods and services, we have evolved an “all cash” corporate trading solution which shifts market share/new cash business (transient and new corporate groups) into their hotels at normal ADR to increase RevPAR. For hotel brands, which for the most part no longer own their hotels, Active Travel has evolved corporate trading solutions which extend their brand media budgets at no additional costs or which fund programs benefiting their franchisees. For company clients purchasing travel, which mainly continue to seek solutions to extend their budgets and deliver savings, we have evolved to accommodate the various internal and external digital platforms utilized by them when purchasing travel goods and services.
Are there standard solutions that Active Travel offers or are these offerings tailored for the specific client need?
On the whole, solutions are constantly evolving and being customized. At present, broadly speaking, clients purchasing travel want savings, and travel suppliers want increased profits. How we deliver the value to both is where the creativity comes into play, especially since one would think it would be impossible to deliver savings to purchasers while at the same time higher profits to suppliers. Since corporate trading at its core is a flexible derivative financial model, we are able to structure solutions to deliver seamlessly the distinct value desired by both.
Is there close coordination between Active Travel and the other parts of Active’s business?
Active Travel is an integral part of the offerings provided by the company’s media and sales teams to their clients and was established as a core offering at the inception of the company. Over time, the company significantly expanded and evolved additional offerings. By working in close coordination with and drawing upon the collective expertise and creativity of the company at large, we have been able to rapidly and proactively evolve and remain relevant to our respective clients.