TORONTO — Flight Centre Independent – formerly Flight Centre Associates – says it’s setting its sights on providing the best host solution in the marketplace.
Flight Centre Associates has been up and running in Canada for the last nine years. The host agency was officially rebranded to Flight Centre Independent on July 5. “We’ve matured as a business,” says Flight Centre Independent General Manager, Lee Zanello. “We’ve spent the last couple of years listening to what our Independent agents have to say and the new Flight Centre Independent is the result.”
Flight Centre has made significant resource and technology investments leading up to the launch to ensure that Flight Centre Independent agents receive support and work in systems that are second to none in the market, he added. “As a Flight Centre Independent, you have access to all levels of support across the country within our leisure business. The same team of over 100 support staff that support our shops is also there for our Independent agents, and this gives us the opportunity to provide direct, one-on-one support in ways that are not available with any other host.”
Zanello points to Flight Centre’s Group Centre and Cruise Centre as two such examples, teams designed to help agents manage group and cruise bookings from the enquiry stage right through to after travel.
Flight Centre Canada President John Beauvais said “the engagement we have as an entire company over our Independent business model is incredible. We are very proud of the business and we know we have the best offer in the Canadian marketplace.”
“The name change comes to us at a good time,” Zanello added. “We were the only ones using the ‘Associates’ term which means we were the best in that ‘Associates’ space. That’s not where the other players are playing. For an agent looking for a host, the question now becomes a lot clearer: do you want to be an Independent Agent or do you want to be a Flight Centre Independent Agent.”
One of the biggest attractions for agents to Flight Centre Independent is the trust that comes at a consumer level for a brand name they recognize. “You can’t put a dollar value on that brand equity, and at the same time, we recognize that some agents and small agencies, especially in smaller communities, value the brand they have built and we are completely fine with that,” says Zanello. “You don’t need to paint yourself red and white if you don’t want to.”
The full steam ahead approach of the model now means the Independent Agent is more a part of the Flight Centre family than ever before, he added. “We’ve always run this business in true Flight Centre fashion, putting the people first,” said Zanello. “Flight Centre Independent takes this to the next level where we have an entire company now working to support the success and profitability of our agents.”