Flight Centre Travel Group is introducing Travel Associates (TA), a new 100% ITC model, to the South African market. The group says the model has been developed to help the many independent agents looking for a secure and reputable consortium home at this time.
The new model will not replace, but be offered in addition to FCTG’s existing independent brand, Flight Centre Associates (FCA). FCA, which has grown to over 170 consultants during the lockdown period, is a branded offering that pays ITCs 75% commission on bookings and allows its consultants to market themselves under the global Flight Centre name.
The new offering will allow consultants to keep 100% of the commission earned on bookings, paying FCTG a service fee only. Travel Associates will market themselves under their own individual company brand names, while also having access to FCTG’s globally procured airfares, its fully automated 24/7 online ticketing system and its globally negotiated land content.
Md MEA of FCTG, Andrew Stark¸told Travel News that the FCA model had proved extremely successful in the South African market, showing strong growth over the years. He says access to FCTG’s globally negotiated air and land content has been key to the model’s success. Many FCAs were originally recruited from within FCTG and Andrew explained that the model had assisted the group to retain not only customers but the skills of its experienced consultants over the years.
While Andrew says he would probably not have considered extending FCTG’s global content to independent consultants on a 100% commission model a year ago, the group has decided to introduce this offering now, to assist the large numbers of ITCs that are currently without a home to survive this period, with the backing of a financially stable global brand behind them.
Andrew concedes that the creation of the new model may result in some internal cannibalisation, with FCA consultants moving across to the new TA brand. However, he adds that the majority of the feedback from existing FCAs has been that having the backing and security of the globally recognised Flight Centre brand behind their names was more important than ever, at a time when there was so much uncertainty about the future of travel companies around the world.
Andrew says FCAs and TAs will both have access to FCTG’s new state-of-the-art Helio online air and land booking system, which will be launched in the market in October.
FCTG does not intend to expose itself to unnecessary risk by taking on every ITC applicant in the market, says Andrew. “We intend for the Travel Associates to be members of a premium, highly exclusive club. Our employees already undergo a lengthy interview process and a stringent police and credit check and and the same checks and processes will be applied to Travel Associates applicants,” says Andrew, adding that FCTG’s associate contracts are also watertight from a risk perspective.
“Travel Associates will have access to FCTG’s 24/7 ticket system and to our team of ticketing experts. We also employ a quality control team whose purpose is to check all tickets before they are issued. Our business does not take short cuts and these processes have enabled us to lower ADMs to minimal levels. The fact that there have been minimal write-offs from our FCA members over the years is further proof of the success of our risk management systems,” says Andrew.