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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

Flight Centre invests in Priceline founder’s corporate business

Flight Centre Travel Group logo

Flight Centre Travel Group (FLT) has become the largest individual shareholder in The Upside Travel Company, the corporate travel firm launched in 2017 by Priceline founder Jay Walker.

The group’s investment represents a 25 per cent stake in Upside and is part of the company’s strategy to strengthen its global corporate travel business.

As part of the agreement, the companies also entered into a commercial deal that covers cooperation on various distribution initiatives that combine Flight Centre Travel Group’s understanding in the corporate travel space with Upside’s technical assets.

Flight Centre Travel Group says it plans to leverage Upside’s technology platform to continue the digital enablement of its Corporate Traveller business. The investment also adds Washington, DC to the group’s global list of FLT “Lab” locations following a recent investment in Bangkok-based 30SecondsToFly and the acquisition of the Sam mobile app in Barcelona.

Upside says the deal bolsters its product offering to the small corporate market, where it will continue to operate under its own brand.

Dean Smith, president of Flight Centre Travel Group’s Americas operations, said: “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.”

Jay Walker, CEO of Upside, added: “FLT is the perfect partner for Upside as we get aggressive in serving small corporate clients. Not only does FLT’s global scale, content and experience immediately make our product even more complete, but FLT’s people and expertise also make us smarter, which is key as we accelerate into the future.”

The Upside product will soon use emerging standards called Next-Generation Storefront, which are being developed by ATPCO in collaboration with airline and industry leaders. Gianni Cataldo, head of research and development at ATPCO, commented: “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.”;

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