Australia’s largest leisure travel agency is extending its scope to small business via a specialised service known as Flight Centre Business Travel.
Targetting businesses with an annual travel spend of between $50,000 and $300,000 per year, Flight Centre says its small business spin-off offers lower and more flexible fares than booking direct with an airline, with the benefit of a single travel manager for each customer.
“We found that Flight Centre was naturally capturing some of that market but we weren’t maximising it” explains Jess Anscombe, from Flight Centre Business Travel Australia.
“So we’re now really focussing on giving business customers a much better offering within our city stores, with with a more corporate offering rather than a retail one.”
Flight Centre Business Travel consultants work in a ‘back of house’ basis inside Flight Centre’s retail stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, Anscombe says.
“By the end of this year we’ll have 80 FCBT teams and almost 400 consultants across Australia.”
The FCBT model sees a consultant assigned to each small business to serve as their travel manager.
“It’s almost like an extension of your team, a person that will know your people and your preferences, and understand your frequent flyer policy,” Anscombe says.
Flight Centre hopes to dissuade small businesses from booking their own travel, convincing them to outsource this task in the same way that they might currently outsource book-keeping and technology for example.
“There’s a large saving in time, we also have access to some exclusive prices on airfares and hotels plus we can also do things like do things like hold seats” Anscombe says.
“Internationally we will, as a rule, have lower fares than an airline offers online, especially in the premium cabins, although on a domestic basis our prices tend to be similar to what you see online.”
“But even when we have the same fares as an airline they can be more flexible, for example you may have free date changes when you book through FCBT whereas with the airline you’d have to pay.”
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