Travel Agents

“There are some silver linings”: Skroo on Flight Centre’s tough COVID-induced business decisions

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) supremo Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner says there is some truth to the view that recent changes to the company’s business model were already needed prior to COVID-19.

Speaking at Travel DAZE 2020 last Friday, Turner spoke candidly about the tough business decisions that FCTG has been forced to make during the pandemic, including redundancies, retail store closures, the sale of the company’s Melbourne office and the closure of multiple brands.

“We’ve gone here in Australia from 950 locations in leisure to somewhere around the 400 mark,” he said.

“It still means that we’ve got plenty of locations to service our customers. We believe we can get back to most of that pre-COVID level with those number of locations, particularly with more of a focus on the online travel call centres, as well as independent contractors, as well as our frontline shops.

“The ones we’ve kept are obviously the best-positioned ones; the larger ones that can take more of our frontline people as well. And, obviously, we have technology that we can put into play much more easily during much less volume of business during this time.

“So, there are some silver linings in being able to change the mix of our models a little bit.”

Turner said FCTG’s corporate travel division will be a lot more about productivity and the technology platforms that the company has been developing and fast-tracking for implementation since COVID-19 hit.

FCTG is expecting business to get back to 70 to 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels by June 2023, before achieving a full recovery by around June 2025.

“So, we’re basically looking at this as a five-year plan,” Turner said.

“I’d say we’ve made most of the major decisions we’ve had to.

“The main thing in the future we hope is to be able to bring back more people that were originally stood down but are now being made redundant so they can get on with their lives and get another job until we’re ready to take them back, indeed if they will come back at that stage.”

Turner also tackled questions about FCTG’s handling of refunds, international travel, the future of agents, and lessons he’s learned during the pandemic.

You can watch his Travel DAZE session in full, on demand HERE.

 


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