Flight Centre Travel Group is gearing up for a global recovery in travel volumes by strengthening its flagship business travel business by moving to full ownership of the US-based Shep platform.
The deal will see Flight Centre take full control of the Texan company Compli.ai, which owns the Shep technology, after taking a first interest in the company in December last year.
Shep is the industry’s first browser extension that will allow Flight Centre’s FCM Travel arm to post its content on third-party websites used by corporate customers.
Flight Centre says this will enhance 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.”
According to Galanty, this offers tangible benefits for customers in the areas of health, safety, sustainability, and policy.
“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 customers and has developed into a company-oriented communication platform that is mainly geared towards multinational companies.
The acquisition completes a renewed focus on Flight Centre’s business travel in the wake of the pandemic.
Flight Centre FCM started in Japan in September through a joint venture with Tokyo-based NSF Engagement Corporation.
The move was aimed at capturing a larger portion of the world’s fourth largest business 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 aren’t material.
FLT’s shares were down 0.64 percent to $16.99 per share at 11:36 a.m. AEDT.