Travel Associates rides massive luxury return

Flight Centre prepares to bet big on company-leading luxury division.

THE strong wave of luxury travel bookings over the last 12 months was fuelling some great exuberance up in Brisbane late last week, with Flight Centre’s Travel Associates brand holding its first Product Showcase in four years to a record attendance of over 200 agents.

The buoyant mood was palpable as advisors and luxury suppliers converged on the W Brisbane for the gathering, which included a series of breakout sessions to update sellers on the latest developments in luxury brands, addresses from the Flight Centre executive team, and, of course, some luxurious cocktail parties and catering to furnish the premium mood of the occasion.

When the books were opened on how Travel Associates had been tracking over the last 12 months, Flight Centre Travel Group’s Global Managing Director – Luxury and Independent brands Danielle Galloway was glowing in her assessment of how the luxury network had been performing.

“I can assure you right now, while [the brand] has purple running through its veins, you are the golden children of this company,” she told TA agents during her opening performance update.

“If you look at our portfolio of brands now across the Flight Centre Travel Group, whether it’s brand updates, company updates, Travel Associates is always in the limelight.

“We’re getting 100% of our results with only 55% of our staff…and this is truly a reflection that we have the best of the best working in this brand,” Galloway added.

While the specific numbers were not up for public viewing, what can be confirmed is the brand has made significant gains in across TTV, average sales values and margins over the last 12 months.

Speaking with TB at the event, Galloway added Travel Associates, and Flight Centre’s luxury ambitions more broadly, would be pushed along with even greater speed due to its renewed global focus on what she described as the company’s Luxury Travel Collection, stating that having the best selection of product for its agents to sell to travellers would be vital in consolidating the great gains it had already made.

“The Luxury Travel Collection was really born out of a review of the marketplace and opportunities outside of Australia and New Zealand as well, asking ourselves how we are going to storm ahead quickly,” she said.

An initial part of this strategy has already been executed, with Flight Centre purchasing the UK-based luxury travel business Scott Dunn at the end of January, however Galloway suggested this would only be the beginning of Flight Centre’s global journey of pursuing growth opportunities.

“Across the whole luxury sector segment we are looking for acquisition opportunities, we’re looking for partnership opportunities,  so we’re quite open to that pathway but obviously our first point was to make sure that we’re in the global markets we should be and then it’s about the right strategies within each of those markets, and where the biggest opportunities in those markets exist,” she explained.

Galloway also hinted that cruise was being looked at very closely, painting a picture of major opportunities for growth in an industry that is surging back to life, but with the same volume of specialists serving Aussie travellers.

“The strength of the cruise market is really significant and also there isn’t one strong player in the marketplace at the moment, because COVID depleted the industry, in particular there were so many boutique cruise agencies that existed that now aren’t servicing with the same specialisation that they were previously,” she said.

Outside of achieving global domination, Flight Centre’s Travel Associates brand is also in the midst of reviewing its technology and branding mix, with a new digital ecosystem flagged for implementation pending final approvals, in addition to a refresh of its marketing and campaign activity.




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