There was a nice line in the Flight Centre annual results in which the retailer referred to its travel consultants as ‘expert human search engines’ able to support transactions on the main company website, Flightcentre.com.au. It’s all part of the push by Flight Centre, one of the world’s largest retail groups, to become a “blended agency” where the on and offline sales streams seamlessly integrate.

“The internet’s strength is that it allows for instant gratification of customer travel needs – this is something we can now match both online and offline,” Mr Turner said.

“Rather than being a specialist on or offline travel agency, we want to create a new category – a blended travel agency.

“Effectively, we will deliver a blended travel solution.

“Customers will be able to switch between sales channels, for example, starting a booking with an expert consultant in-store and completing it offline at home.

“This bricks and mortar interplay, whereby customers can book and be allocated an expert travel consultant to look after them in good times and bad, combines the strengths of both the online and offline models and will set us apart.”

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