Every captain needs a first mate. And at Virgin Voyages, the adults-only cruise line set to debut in 2020, its second-in-command will be none other than travel agents.
The recently-rebranded Flight Centre Independent host agency division is not just a Canadian focus, but also a global focus for Flight Centre, says Flight Centre Founder Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner. “Flight Centre as a whole are right behind our Independent Agents and they’re going to be a very, very important part of our future,” said Turner.
Last month Flight Centre Independent agents were hosted by Air Transat and AMResorts for their annual conference and gala awards. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Welcome To The Jungle: Discover The Undiscovered’ with FCI agents in attendance exposed to new product, new systems and new information about their businesses and the Flight Centre Independent (formerly Flight Centre Associates) brand as a whole.
FCI agents are having fun with the new name, nicknaming themselves ‘Indies’ in recent months, says FCI General Manager Lee Zanello.
As a result, he says, FCI support staff couldn’t help but have some fun of their own when planning this year’s conference and gala awards. “We had already been working with the jungle theme for the last ten months,” says Zanello. “It was a perfect fit to throw in the Indiana Jones references.”
Agents donned Indiana Jones fedoras throughout the week and earning ‘Indy Bucks’ and ‘Snake Idols’ for participating in various aspects of conference.
The money and idols then factored into a Survivor-style auction at the end of the week where over $10,000 of trips and prizes were given away.
“The support we are seeing from the company both nationally and globally is unprecedented,” says Zanello, “and this only means more investment, more resources and more support for our Independent Agents.”
FCI says its support-to-agent ratio is 10:1 and with the new introduction of the Regional Leader role at this year’s conference, support is getting stronger at the local level.
“Our Regional Leaders are the Independent way to run with Flight Centre’s time-tested philosophy around Family, Village and Tribe groupings,” says Zanello. “Within this structure, support truly is everywhere and our six new Regional Leaders will only add to that.”
Over the course of the week agents took in shows, fine dining and had the opportunity to build relationships with many of Flight Centre’s preferred tour partners, an area where many agents were wanting and needing more training, notes Zanello.
There was also a lot to celebrate as a mock wedding evening turned into a celebration of an agent’s recent 25-year wedding anniversary with her partner, who was also present, and the week started with one agent receiving (and accepting) a wedding proposal of her own.
Top agents from the previous fiscal year were also recognized and agents who contribute positively to the culture of FCI were honoured in the evening’s top awards.
Attendees also heard that Flight Centre Independent Agents are now not only eligible for the annual Preferred All-Stars Trip – an all-expenses paid trip for the top agents who support Flight Centre’s Preferred Partner strategy – but several spots are also open to attend Flight Centre’s Global Gathering taking place in Berlin next July.