Flight Centre might be on the acquisitions train to mega growth-town, but Managing Director Skroo Turner remains humble throughout it all.
Speaking to Travel Weekly on a phone call with dodgy reception, Turner told TW this sort of expansion is “not new to us”, and despite having made six acquisitions in the past month, he was adamant it wasn’t that big of a deal.
“We haven’t grown dramatically,” he said.
“Our sales went from $20 billion to $21 billion globally, and we’re just focusing on the three main areas of travel – leisure, corporate and in-destination offerings.”
Speaking to the major acquisition of Sydney-based Travel Partners – a hot topic among the industry and the first home-based play in Australia for Flight Centre – Turner claimed it was an inevitable move.
In a previous interview, Turner had confirmed to TW that home and mobile-based agents were high on the priority list in terms of expansion.
“This is just an integral part of our leisure offering here in Australia,” he said.
“We have a similar offering now in New Zealand and Canada.”
Turner’s straight-down-the-line answers come off the back of comments from Travel Counsellors’ MD Fred van Eijk, who suggested home-based businesses don’t belong in big corporate structures.
“I saw it coming,” van Eijk told TW. ““I don’t think it will work well. And it will be hard for [home-based] agents to be part of a larger business.”
But, as Turner explained to us, “It’s not actually a merger; [founder] Jeff Hakim will continue running [Travel Partners].
“But we want to grow reasonably rapidly, and make Travel Partners more successful from what it is now.
“People may not realise but we already have around 300 people in an independent model who work from home. They are still employees but they’re independent contractors.”
Turner added that Travel Partners will operate under a business model that’s “exactly the same” as what it has now.
“The only thing that may change,” Turner added, “is the product and contracts and suppliers we have.
“Anyone working with Travel Partners will get immediate access to the products, range and deals we have now.”
As for commission structures for Travel Partners agents, Turner said it may or may not be better when utilising these Flight Centre suppliers and contracts, but it “certainly will not be worse than now. But it may be better.”
“We already have about 300 people who are effectively independent under our company structure, so there’s no great dramatic changes in the business.
“It’s just one of those things we want to grow.”