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Our company starts with one double decker bus in 1973. Over four decades, Flight Centre Travel Group grows to become a $19 billion business consisting of more than 40 brands. Today, we are one of the world's largest travel groups with company-owned operations in 16 countries and a corporate travel management network that spans more than 90 countries.
The Gulf War starts in early 1991. People are too scared to fly overseas. Headlines proclaim the death of the travel industry. Enquiry dries up.
Flight Centre is losing money. We are in danger of going under. We turn to our philosophy of no externalising and taking responsibility. Our consultants start selling domestic.
Our business rebounds. To pursue our growth strategy, in 1993, we launch two new brands – Great Holiday Escape and Flight Centre Corporate (later rebranded as Escape Travel and Corporate Traveller). We also acquire Infinity.
This front-page article in the Flight Centres Newsletter predicts that March 1991 will be the busiest month of the year for bookings.
Flight Centre opens its 100th shop in early 1992.
We launch Great Holiday Escape as a tactic to grow our footprint in shopping centres where we already have a Flight Centre shop. The fit-out differentiates the brand – with fake palms and cane furniture, it feels like your holiday starts when you walk in the shop. In 2004, we relaunch the brand as Escape Travel, specialising in inclusive holiday packages.
We start Flight Centre Corporate in Melbourne. We rebrand in 1996 as Corporate Traveller – experts in business travel solutions for small to medium enterprises.
Heather Gilbert is the first consultant in Flight Centre Corporate. She recalls:
'We didn't have the internet back then so I relied on the book [Who's Who in Business] to research companies… The challenge for us was in getting our sales pitch away from thinking it was just about securing cheap airfares… For corporate clients it was about service, good airfares, quality hotels, good suppliers and prompt execution.'
We enter a joint venture to acquire Infinity – a wholesale holidays business. From 2008 to 2015, Infinity posts double digit growth year on year. We celebrate landmark profits – $10 million in FY2008 and $80 million in FY2015.