Flight Centre to launch “virtual travel agent”

Flight Centre to launch “virtual travel agent”

Flight Centre Travel Group will continue to ramp up its online operations with the launch of new website Aunt Betty, pitched as a “virtual travel agent”.

The quirky new offering will attempt to regain market share of package holidays to popular destinations from online retailers such as Webjet and Expedia, executive general manager online Joell Ogilvie told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The website, www.auntbetty.com.au will be soft launched at the end of February before going live in June, the SMH reported.

Head of e-commerce Sean Sutherland told Travel Trends earlier this month that the site aims to offer consumers the “best of both worlds”, fusing the personal touches of traditional travel agents with the consistency of their online rivals.

Meanwhile, the Aunt Betty holding page currently lists flights to Auckland, Bali, Brisbane, Cairns, Fiji, Melbourne, Perth, Phuket, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

It also features a lively biography of Aunt Betty and her travel adventures to date.

“Now she enjoys telling us all her stories, and helping us explore the world the same way she did,” it says.

“Everyone we know goes to Aunt Betty for advice, she always knows just the right place to visit.”

Although an online offering, Aunt Betty will treat everyone “like family”, the site promises.

Flight Centre, which has adopted a “hybrid approach” to its travel agency business, recently further strengthened its online footprint by securing a 70% interest in BYOjet.com, an emerging online travel agency specialising in low cost airfares.

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