The number of Canadians travelling to the U.S. is up 5%, dodging the Trump Slump and keeping tour operators here upbeat about their sales volumes to U.S. destinations.
Flight Centre Associates has long been thought as having a ‘department’ that deals with its Independent Contractors when in fact FCA Independents access the same support and infrastructure that supports Flight Centre’s over 150 shops nationwide. The support staff for the FCA ICs is 200+ strong, says Lee Zanello, Brand Leader for Flight Centre Associates, Flight Centre’s host-agency solution.
FCA recently hosted a weekend event in Toronto with more than 50 Flight Centre Associates. The event was “an incredible conference that really proved how highly the Independent community within FC is valued,” said Zanello. It was also the largest Canadian gathering of home-based agents the company had ever hosted. FCA now has agents in nearly every province and territory across Canada.
“We have a very strong Independent offering with a vibrant culture. To be able to bring so many people together for a weekend like this only helps strengthen the family-feel that we exude in our brand,” said Zanello.
It’s been nine years since Flight Centre Associates got its start its own brand within the larger Flight Centre Leisure brand. The Beatles-influenced ‘Come Together’ theme of the weekend was about more than bringing people together from across the country, said Zanello. It was also about bringing agents together with top Flight Centre partners to learn about product, and served as a launch pad for new Flight Centre initiatives designed to provide even more support and inclusion for the Independent brand.
Flexibility with branding remains one of FCA’s biggest selling points with agents, says Zanello. “Agents are, and always have been, free to keep their own name and their own branding if they choose. What we are doing moving forward is giving them even more Flight Centre infrastructure to lean on to support their business.”
Agents at the event learned about opportunities to grow their business through taking on sub-contractors as well as how to work more closely with Flight Centre’s corporate brands to grow their corporate portfolios.
The session launching Flight Centre’s Group Centre and Cruise Centre was one of the highlights of the weekend, added Zanello, offering full support to agents for both group and cruise travel, from enquiry through to close. “We have built an offering that is unmatched in the Canadian marketplace. Where else do you get that combination of a global company with a massive infrastructure and consumer recognition mixed with one-on-one attention around your specific business?”
With the Flight Centre Group Centre ICs get direct support and advice for dealing with groups: helping source quotes for groups and incentive travel and help with managing the groups process.
The Flight Centre Cruise Centre offers direct support and advice for dealing with cruise enquiries, from product suggestions and systems designed to help ease the booking process to assistance with cruise groups and group management.
Flight Centre has three Independent offerings. “Our size and strength in the Canadian travel industry gives us the resources to work directly with each agent or agency on an individual basis,” said Zanello. “We aren’t cookie-cutter and we work hard to ensure we have a host solution that is flexible enough to fit pretty much any arrangement.”