Flight Centre will invest in new technologies including platforms, data and analytics, as part of a strategy to create key support mechanisms, as the industry at large recovers from pandemic.

The Australian travel agency has backed digital investment in a variety of areas, including consumer business. In a statement obtained by IT News, Flight Centre Leisure CEO James Kavanagh said the company did not “waste the [covid] crisis”, and used the time to research an array of digital operations, a cornerstone of Flight Centre’s post-pandemic recovery.

The result was the creation of an omnichannel model intended to allow consumers to “move seamlessly from online, to the app, to in-store”.

“I’m really pleased to say that programme of work is on track”, the CEO James Kavanagh said.

Flight Centre influenced by digital platforms

In recent months, online bookings made up 24% Flight Centre’s leisure business, double the previous figure of 12%. Leisure CEO James Kavanagh has claimed that 60% of the Flight Centre customer journey starts on a mobile device.

Another digital innovation for Flight Centre is the reworking of the company’s back-end. Furthermore, the introduction of an AI bot named Annie, which uses data assets from the company to assign offers for certain customers, depending on when they are most likely to make the purchase.

The Flight Centre Leisure CEO has noted that through digital innovations, the company can become more productive, while operating the business with half of the previous number of systems. Kavanagh has said that consultants are two times as productive at the booking level, while new members of staff can become productive in a shorter space of time.

Flight Centre has created an omnichannel model intended to allow consumers “move seamlessly from online, to the app, to in-store”. (Photo: David Jackmanson/CC BY 2.0)
Flight Centre has created an omnichannel model intended to allow consumers “move seamlessly from online, to the app, to in-store”. (Photo: David Jackmanson/CC BY 2.0)

Company follows the implementation of Helio

Flight Centre made headlines at the start of 2021, with the unveiling of several new technologies including Helio, a leisure platform booking system. Helio was introduced to replace six global legacy systems, allowing travel consultants to have more administrative control over customer bookings. The company also launched online booking engine SOAR, as well as the small business digital platform Melon.

Chris Galanty, the company’s corporate travel chief executive officer, said at the time the new technologies would allow for “increased productivity gains through the deployment of robotics and artificial intelligence technology platform” in a statement to IT News.

Regarding this year’s investment in digital innovations, Galanty said that artificial intelligence and analytics, with useful data, is allowing the company to increase its sales through third party channels. Thus, the company can showcase “the right content via the right channel to the right customer at the right time”.

Company claims travel demand is increasing

Flight Centre has said that turbulent services for travellers has helped the company position itself as an “expert travel advisor”, as quoted by the Age.

Flight Centre’s global CEO and managing director, Graham Turner, told the publication that “about half of our customers currently require extra help with their bookings because of changes and disruption, compared to 25% pre-COVID”. This, in turn, has led more customers to use the company’s services.

“This more complex environment is fuelling what we are referring to as a ‘renaissance of the expert travel advisor’, as our people help the travelling public chart a path through this temporary turbulence”, he said.

New customers amid rising costs

Although travel costs have been rising, the company has told its investors that customers are willing to pay extra. Flight Centre has welcomed new customers such as young travellers, a segment that increased from 16% to 25% in the full financial year.

That year, the company made revenue totalling $1 billion (approximately €700 million), reportedly a 155% increase from its revenue in 2021.

It has been observed that global airline capacity is increasing gradually, reaching 87% of pre-pandemic levels at the end of July.

Meanwhile, the Flight Centre Travel Group, parent company of FCM and Corporate Traveller, reported a return to making profits for its global corporate business.

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