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Flight Centre to roll out new global website as it looks online for growth

Australian-headquartered travel retailer Flight Centre expects online sales will account for 40 per cent of its turnover within three years. 

As international travelling resumes after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 40-year-old company is unveiling a new slimmed-down business model it calls “Flight Centre Brand 4.0” which has a heavy focus on digital engagement with customers.

An omni-retail approach, blending the different ways Flight Centre clients book travel – in-store, on mobile or desktop, over the phone or via Flight Centre’s app – will be anchored on a soon-to-be-launched global website with what the company describes as “world-class booking functionality”.

The site will carry a standardised global brand, with regional and in-store functionality for bookable travel products, pricing, and promotions.

“We’ve used the past two years to right-size the business and reinvent Flight Centre after taking stock of our future ambitions,” said founder and CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner. “Without leaving our core assets behind, we’re moving from a world of complexity to one of simplicity for our customers and consultants.”

Turner believes that with the world beginning to exit the Covid era, now is the time to focus on creating “a savvier and more streamlined business model”. 

“As such, we are improving the value and expertise of our consultants who will operate in a face-to-face environment, supported by the most sophisticated of online platforms.”

The new FCB business model features a dynamic and globalised pricing strategy, a consistent customer experience regardless of the location, an intuitive booking system dubbed Helio with an automated best-deal search engine and a single view display of end-to-end journey booking data visible to both client and consultant. 

“Our new online platform will feature a single booking portal that customers and consultants can access seamlessly, whether the booking is made in-store or online,” said Flight Centre Travel Group’s New Zealand MD David Coombes. “Via our new omni-retail model, the business will increase its online sales to 40 per cent of total transactional value by 2025.” 

The booking platforms are also designed to meet what Coombes describes as evolving customer demand for an ability to make decisions around their travel options that take into account their impact on climate change, but allowing carbon offsetting and transparency on CO2 emissions. 

Coombes says travel has bounced back quicker than the company expected, leaving it trading at more than 60 per cent of the pre-Covid level – but with only one-quarter of the staff.

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