Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX: FLT) is gearing up for a global recovery in travel volumes, bolstering its flagship corporate travel business by moving to full ownership of US-based platform Shep.
The deal will see Flight Centre assume full control of Texan outfit Compli.ai, which owns the Shep technology, after taking an initial interest in the company in December last year.
Shep is an industry-first browser extension that will allow Flight Centre’s FCM Travel arm to place its own content on third-party websites used by corporate customers.
Flight Centre says this will augment the user experience as part of the FCM platform’s flexible offering when booking or searching outside of a company’s recommended booking tools.
“FCM is all about flexibility,” says Flight Centre’s corporate travel CEO Chris Galanty.
“We customise our products and services to the needs of our customers at global scale. In the technology area, the FCM platform delivers that all-important flexibility by providing customers with a globally consistent user experience, while still allowing them to incorporate online booking tools and other third-party solutions they want to use in their travel programs.
“The Shep tool allows us to customise offerings further by injecting important and relevant FCM content on online booking tools and third-party websites that travellers are accessing.”
Galanty says this offers tangible benefits for customers in the areas of health, safety, sustainability and policy guidance.
“For example, Shep can detect if employees are trying to book outside of travel policy and push them back to an approved booking site, which is very important to companies as they reinitiate their travel programs with a greater emphasis on duty of care in the post-pandemic world,” he says.
Shep was founded in 2017 as a leakage tool for SME clients, evolving into an enterprise-focused communication platform largely targeting multi-national corporations.
The acquisition caps off a renewed focus on corporate travel by Flight Centre in the wake of the pandemic.
In September, Flight Centre launched FCM in Japan through a joint venture with Tokyo-based NSF Engagement Corporation. The move was aimed at capturing a bigger slice of the world’s fourth-largest corporate travel market.
The price paid by Flight Centre for full control of Compli.ai has not been disclosed. The company says the terms of the deal are not material.
Shares in FLT are down 0.64 per cent to $16.99 per share at 11.36am AEDT.
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