Skift Take

Most of Flight Centre’s acquisitions to date have been about adding market share and a broader international footprint, but the Australian company is now looking for tech advantages. It's hoping Canadian itinerary management platform Umapped will raise its game.

Australian-based Flight Centre has acquired Umapped, a Toronto-based technology company that provides travel documentation, communication, and itinerary management software to the travel industry.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Flight Centre on Friday said the purchase will fast-track its digital transformation, enhancing its web and mobile services to deliver upgraded documentation, better templates and seamless, real-time communication between consultants and customers.

Umapped’s products, which are already being used by Flight Centre’s GOGO wholesale business in the USA, will now be rolled out in other businesses globally and will be “a key feature of FCB 2.0, the next generation Flight Centre brand offering in Australia,” Flight Centre said.

Flight Centre CEO Graham “Skroo” Turner said he’d been impressed with the platform and believes “it can have a positive impact on our consultants’ productivity and on our customers’ travel experience.”

Umapped was founded in 2012 by CEO Lisa Israelovitch and Thierry Wong, the business’s chief technology officer.

Its core products, the online Trip Publisher and the TripLinQ API, are used by leading global travel brands and advisors to engage with their customers throughout the entire travel lifecycle.

Israelovitch said both Flight Centre and Umapped “share similar values and a deep commitment to empower travel advisors and suppliers with technology that adds significant value throughout the customer journey. We are very excited to work alongside the talented FLT team to develop new product offerings with a continued commitment to customer service.”

Umapped claims 10-15 times improvements in travel agent productivity with its integrations.

Israelovitch used her decade of hospitality and real estate industry experience to start the company with financial industry trading system developer Wong.

Besides Flight Centre’s GOGO subsidiary, Umapped customers and partners include the Virtuoso, Travel Leaders Group, TravelBound, SmartFlyer.

The solution was recently added to Australia’s Tramada travel technology platform, putting it into the hands of direct travel agency competitors in the new owner’s home market.

There’s no word from Flight Centre about its strategy for existing Umapped contracts with rival travel agents.

Business As Usual for Umapped

Israelovitch and Wong will continue to run Umapped with their 16 member Toronto-based team, and will report to Flight Centre’s Chief Digital Officer, Atle Skalleberg.

According to Skalleberg, “Operations will continue in Toronto and the founders are excited to join (the Flight Centre Group). Lisa and Thierry have built a great team and we are excited to build next-gen travel tech together.”

Skalleberg said the Toronto team will work closely with several of the group’s global offices, including teams in Boston, New York, London, Brisbane, Johannesburg and Barcelona.

“The Umapped team will remain focused on releasing new versions of their services as we scale it across (the group),” he told Skift.

Skalleberg is looking forward to rolling out Umapped solutions across the operations: “The Trip Publisher will enable our consultants to create beautiful itineraries with content from multiple data sources. Our customers will get live updates, curated offers and the ability to collaborate and chat with our expert consultants.

Together with the Umapped team, we will deliver dynamic itinerary management for web and mobile services, upgraded travel documentation, trip templates for our consultants (to save time quoting and to access curated content) and innovative ways of surfacing our expertise.

“Simply put, it will be directly integrated to our offerings for several brands. Integrations will range from bespoke to fairly light, with some going live in weeks,” he explained.

Flight Centre will take 100 percent ownership of Umapped and will use general cash to fund the acquisition. The purchase price has not been disclosed, and the deal gave the travel agency group’s stock a bit of a nudge on the Australian Stock Exchange, pushing shares up just under 1 percent to A$53.65.

Flight Centre recently took a hit on the markets after negative press in Australia alleging staff underpayment and rampant gouging of customers.

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