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.
Going public, going global
1995 is a pivotal year. Our total profits pass $10 million for the first time. We expand globally to South Africa, Canada and the UK. We go public and list Flight Centre Limited on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Flight Centre Limited goes from strength to strength – our profits more than triple from $13 million in 1995 to $43 million in 1999.
In this period, we also start operations in the USA and launch new retail and corporate brands.
The decision to list as a public company is an opportunity to create greater ownership for our people, who purchase over 25 per cent of the shares available. Here's Geoff Harris, Jim Goldburg, Skroo and Chris Greive at the Australian Stock Exchange on the day that Flight Centre Limited shares start trading.
We go global and open Flight Centre shops in South Africa, Canada and the UK.
Wayne Hamilton, one of the first consultants in South Africa, recalls:
'Eighty per cent of what Flight Centre did had never been done in South Africa before. We were the first travel agents ever to discount fares. We even had other travel agents ringing us wanting to buy them from us… We just blew clients away.'
Our first shop in the UK opens in December 1995. Mandy Johnson describes the shop's ambience:
'Putney Flight Centre was an old, windowless, concrete-lined basement consisting of two small rooms and a foetid-smelling toilet. The area was so small that anyone wishing to do a “number two” was banished to the McDonald's toilet next door.'
Here's the Eastern Canada SWOT team, circa 1998.
We launch Student Flights in Australia to sell cheap airfares for students. Jilly the backpacker makes her debut as brand ambassador in 2002. Today, Student Flights is the leading student flight and travel adventure business in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.
We run our first Travel Expo in February 1996 in Brisbane. We offer hot deals that customers can book on the spot. Today, Flight Centre Travel Group presents a variety of travel expos across the globe. With expos, we have the biggest customer audience at any one time under one roof and they're all have the desire to travel.
We launch Travel Associates as a boutique travel agency to offer discerning travellers the ultimate in experiential travel and tailor-made itineraries. Today, the brand serves the luxury and niche travel market in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.
This Mason cartoon of Skroo and Goeff Harris appears in Travelweek in April 1998. alongside Ian McMahon's article 'Flight Centre looks to new horizons'. The article discusses how our company keeps growing profits by developing new niche brands and expanding into markets overseas.
We open our first shop in the USA – it's the Wiltshire and Euclid Flight Centre in Santa Monica. By March 2001, we have 10 shops and one Corporate Traveller.
We acquire Stage and Screen. This brand caters for the specialised travel requirements in the entertainment and sport industries.
Taking care of our health and wellbeing is part of our culture. We start Healthwise as a health and wellness initiative for our people. By 2017, Healthwise Global delivers corporate health and wellbeing services to a diverse range of companies in 11 countries.