The Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) has announced it is strengthening its growing corporate travel business through a strategic investment in The Upside Travel Company (“Upside”), the corporate travel company launched in 2017 by Priceline founder Jay Walker. FCTG’s investment is for a 25% interest in Upside which will see it become the business’s largest individual shareholder.
With this investment, FCTG improves its technology capabilities, specifically in the small-and-midsize corporate market. FCTG plans to leverage Upside’s technology platform to continue the digital enablement of its Corporate Traveller business, pairing the proficiency of its people with cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning models.
“We have been impressed by the capability and flexibility of Upside’s technology and team to improve the business traveller experience. Its use of machine learning models to dynamically price business travel packages in real-time to save clients’ money while increasing traveller options is just one example of Upside’s best in class technology,” according to Andrew Stark, General Manager of FCTG.
For Upside, the deal substantially bolsters the company’s product offering to the small corporate market, where it will continue to operate under the Upside brand. Access to FCTG’s supplier relationships and global reach expands Upside’s inventory and enhances its ongoing software development with a broader set of travel data inputs.
“FCTG is the perfect partner for Upside as we get aggressive in serving small corporate clients. Not only does FCTG’s global scale, content, and experience immediately make our product more complete, but FCTG’s people and expertise also make us smarter, which is key as we accelerate into the future.” said Jay Walker, CEO of Upside.
The Upside product will soon take advantage of the emerging standards called Next-Generation Storefront, which are being developed by ATPCO in collaboration with airline and industry leaders. Incorporating the new standards for product display is a top post-investment priority for both parties and is expected to take place in Q2 of 2019.
“It’s promising to see FLT and Upside work together on providing the best traveller experience possible by making NGS a priority so flight shoppers can compare like-type products on third party channels. We’re inspired to see so many channels taking a step forward to transform flight shopping” said Gianni Cataldo, Head of Research & Development, at ATPCO.
“A direct flight between Cape Town and New York would be a very welcome development for both leisure and business travel from and to South Africa.
Cape Town recently overtook Johannesburg as South Africa’s number one financial hub, according to the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 24), while New York takes top position as the number one financial hub worldwide. Linking these two powerful business hubs with a direct flight will significantly boost business between the countries.
Direct nonstop travel, minimising total trip time, is as important as any other perk for business travellers and travel managers today. They want the most convenient and quickest flight options that will allow them to save time and show up rested at their destination.”