As Flight Centre last night revealed its plans for, let’s face it, global domination, one might be wondering whether there is still space for the traditional travel agent.
That’s according to Flight Centre leisure managing director Andrew Stark.
“In the next two years there will be a huge need to talk to a human being when it comes to travelling,” he told Traveltalk.
Our shops are a very important brand and customer asset, he said at the company’s 40th birthday celebration in Sydney last night.
“I will fiercely protect our shop network,” Stark promised. “We’re not going to give up on those assets whatsoever.”
According to Stark, competitors are unlikely to open shops, instead likely moving into the online sphere.
But gone are the days when Flight Centre was just the traditional bricks and mortar shopfront.
“The role of the consultant has evolved, and customer expectations have shifted as they're after more streamlined and intuitive processes for their bookings, online and in-store,” Stark said.
Enter Flight Centre 4.0.
“Our new online platform features a single booking portal that customers and consultants can access seamlessly, whether the booking is made in-store or online. Via our new omni-retail model, the business will increase its online sales to 40% of total transactional value by 2025.”
Today Flight Centre business is represented by 3,000 people in 450 shops globally (Apple, says Stark, only has 500).
But even as Flight Centre moves further into the online world, Flight Centre founder Skroo Turner said, “Flight Centre’s people are our biggest asset and our biggest differentiator in the global market. This is the essential difference between us and our competitors in the online travel agency space.”
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