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ITA Buys Cooleaf...Creative Group Inc. Under New Owners

Here’s the latest news on mergers and acquisitions in the incentive, rewards, and recognition business.

ITA Group Acquires Cooleaf Recognition and Rewards Tech
Creative Group Inc. Has New Owners

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ITA Group, the employee-owned Iowa-based performance improvement company, acquires Cooleaf, an employee engagement technology firm in Georgia. Direct Travel, Inc., owner of Created Group Inc. in Illinois, has been acquired by a venture capitalist active in the travel industry.
 

ITA Group Acquires Cooleaf Recognition and Rewards Tech

 
ITA Group, one of the world’s largest providers of employee engagement solutions, has purchased Cooleaf, a recognition and rewards SaaS technology platform. ITA Group says the technology offers a “robust suite of turnkey recognition, incentive and integration features, enabling organizations to easily keep teams connected anytime, anywhere.”
 
According to the announcement, “With the acquisition, ITA Group’s employee experience programs help brands build a more connected culture, which the company defines as an approach that focuses on organizational alignment of all employee programs to attract and retain top talent.”
 
The company says that the technology’s benefits include:
 
  • “Complete engagement platform ready for rapid deployment.
  • Comprehensive functionality (recognition, incentives, milestone awards, challenges, event calendar, newsfeeds, survey tools, leader tools, administration tools and more.)
  • Ability to consolidate programs, grow, scale, and change them with a full range of capabilities from a single-source agency.
  • Integrations with other human resources (HR) technology platform, HRIS—human resources information systems, CRM—customer relationship management, LMS—learning management systems, fitness devices, etc.)
  • Intuitive user interface with an easy-to-use administration tool.
  • Predesigned onboarding paths for a seamless new hire process.
  • Ongoing strategic partnership aligned to achieving business goals.”
 
Rob DannaRob Danna, Employee Experience Solution Champion at ITA Group, explains, “Workforce engagement is one of the biggest challenges facing organizations around the globe, and our clients are asking for a complete employee engagement solution that can be implemented quickly. The addition of the Cooleaf technology to ITA Group’s already established employee experience solutions creates a unique option for enterprise and mid-market companies looking for one, end-to-end agency that can support all their employee programs cohesively.”
 
The statement reports that Cooleaf was founded in 2016 “by a team of engagement experts that use the award-winning technology to build and implement the perfect strategies. The platform empowers brands to capture employee sentiment, recognize and reward performance that aligns with company goals, and measure employee experience with powerful, easy-to-use dashboards. Cooleaf’s technology roadmap advancement also includes incorporating AI effectively into the flow of work. The power of the Cooleaf platform rests in its tailored strategies, flexibility, and analytics. By combining our award-winning technology with ITA Group’s industry-leading strategic insights and capabilities, we are now part of a complete end-to-end employee engagement solution,” says Prem Bhatia, co-founder of Cooleaf.
 
“With the Cooleaf acquisition, ITA Group’s employee experience solutions build community and alignment within an organization, while reinforcing organizational values and the employer value proposition,” according to the ITA Group statement.

Creative Group Inc. Has New Owners 
Steve Singh


Steve Singh
, a prominent venture capitalist and founder of the world’s largest travel and expense management company, Concur, has purchased Direct Travel Inc., based in Colorado, which owns Creative Group Inc. among other entities.
 
Singh will serve as Executive Chairman of Direct Travel, and Christal Bemont will assume the role of CEO. Janet Traphagen is President of Creative Group. Well-known IRR industry champion Melissa Van Dyke is Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing and Innovation. Creative Group remains a wholly owned subsidiary operating business, according to Traphagen. It is one of the largest incentive and meetings companies in the US. Including Creative Group, Direct Travel reportedly serves about 4,500 mid-market to enterprise clients.
 
“Over the past few years, our investment group has sought out companies that are re-inventing key elements of the travel ecosystem with a goal of delivering a dramatically better value proposition to business travelers, the companies they work for, and the travel providers that serve them....Direct Travel sets the bar for customer experience. We are delighted to invest in and partner deeply with what we believe will be the market leading travel management company,” says Steve Singh, Executive Chairman, Direct Travel
 
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