Flight Centre’s latest North American acquisition looks like a win-win. Casto Travel gets access to the group’s technology, buying power, and marketing reach while the Australian-headquartered travel group expands its footprint in Silicon Valley.
The acquisition is expected to close in early February. Details of the purchase price and terms have not yet been revealed following an initial announcement earlier this month.
Casto Travel serves largely corporate travel, from its three offices in San Jose, San Francisco, and Tiburon, and has been noted for its successes in augmenting its core business travel activities with leisure offerings.
The Casto Travel purchase comes three months after Flight Centre acquired Toronto-based itinerary technology company Umapped. Flight Centre plans to continue running the company as Casto Travel, with the ultimate goal of assimilating the subsidiary into the FCm brand as part of its elite offering.
Flight Centre Managing Director Graham Turner said the new business is a significant addition to his group’s increasingly diverse global network. “Casto strengthens our overall US operation, which includes the highly successful and rapidly growing corporate travel business, along with our on- and offline leisure businesses and wholesaler GOGO Vacations,” Turner said.
Casto Travel will give the group greater scale in Silicon Valley and in the large West Coast market, “where we previously had a relatively small corporate travel presence, while also complementing our larger operations on the East Coast and in other key locations.”
Dean Smith, President of Flight Centre Travel Group for the Americas, said acquiring CTI represents a significant piece of FLT’s future growth and strategic direction in the USA.
“This acquisition provides us a tremendous opportunity to increase our presence in the West as well as leverage CTI’s local expertise and reputation for excellent service in one of the largest corporate travel markets in the world. CTI’s location in the heart of the Silicon Valley also brings with it the benefit of access to the fast-growing technology sector.”
Casto Travel, which was founded in 1974, now employs 85 staff and generates a total transaction volume of $120 million, making it a mid-scale travel management company. All staff will be retained after the acquisition, according to Charlene Leiss, president, Corporate Brands, Flight Centre Travel Group USA.
“Flight Centre is acquiring Casto Travel for the talent of staff, excellent and long-standing reputation for elite service, deep client relationships and strategic geographic need in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. There are no major areas of redundancy between our businesses,” Leiss said.
Casto Travel founder Maryles Casto will assist with the integration of the agency into Flight Centre Travel Group and assume the role of Vice President of West Coast integration, while current President and CEO Marc Casto will stay on as Senior Vice President West Coast. “Both have signed employee contracts and are key to our business plans moving forward,” said Leiss.
BUSINESS AS USUAL – WITH ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
Marc Casto has already informed most key clients about the developments and they have been reassured that there will be no change in the day-to-day U.S. staff servicing their account.
“Casto’s focus on pairing industry-leading travel technology with a continual commitment to excellence in service has created a history of success in Silicon Valley,” he said. “We are excited to partner with Flight Centre Travel Group and extend their best-in-class global platform in this highly dynamic marketplace.”
For now, Casto Travel will remain in its current locations. “We plan to retain the geographic footprint of Casto Travel in the San Jose and San Francisco areas. Where there are future opportunities to combine physical space, we will do so, but always with the aim to maintain and grow our presence in these two key cities,” Leiss said.
Flight Centre Travel Group, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, is a $20 billion business consisting of more than 40 brands and employing more than 19,000 people in 23 countries.
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Photo credit: A Flight Centre outlet in London. Edwardx / Wikimedia Commons