FCTG'S 'SmartSTAY' Success in Corporate Market

Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) corporate customers are loving the unique perks they're receiving as part of the group's exclusive accommodation program - SmartSTAY.

Hotels participating in the SmartSTAY program provide FCTG's corporate customers with a unique hotel rate package including a selection of free, value-adding services such as wi-fi, breakfast or late check-out among others.

Launched mid-2013, SmartSTAY has recorded exceptional growth in 12 months, with more than 250 hotels and thousands of companies from around the world participating in the corporate benefits program.

Executive general manager for FCTG's Australian corporate division, John Veitch said SmartSTAY was part of the group's company-wide transformation from travel agent to world class retailer.

"FCTG's corporate travel brands have been actively working on initiatives to support our transformation from traditional travel management company to leading business travel retailer," Mr Veitch said.

"This evolution has seen the group create and source exclusive travel product, like the SmartSTAY program, to ensure our customers get more value from their travel experiences and their travel dollar."

SmartSTAY has achieved significant uptake among hotel suppliers and FCTG's corporate clients across the US, UK, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Mr Veitch said the success of SmartSTAY had helped the group's corporate division to increase its overall contribution to FCTG's record results for 2013/14.

"Together, the company's corporate travel brands contributed 30% to FCTG's global sales during 2013/14," he said.

"Our corporate clients are responding extremely well to travel options that give obvious value for money, and an experience they can't get anywhere else."

SmartSTAY is the only global program of its kind to provide complimentary hotel services to corporate guests with no joining fees, no client contracts and no hidden costs.

Based on an average three night stay in the US, travellers can save in the vicinity of US$45 on wi-fi, US$75 on breakfasts, US$90 on car parking and US$140 on half day rates.

By booking accommodation through FCTG’s corporate brands, companies can access the savings of SmartSTAY in addition to the flexible corporate hotel rates of FCTG’s global hotel program.

Selected hotels are now participating in the program from a range of global hotel brands including Fairmont, Swissotel, Raffles, Langham, Pan Pacific and Hilton. SmartSTAY also includes selected hotels from leading brands in each region, including Thistle/Guoman in the UK, Kimpton in the US; and Vibe, Rendezvous, Choice, Fraser Suites and Accor in Australia and NZ.

SmartSTAY bookings to date indicate the program is also driving increased loyalty to participating hotels, which includes three, four and five star hotels, as well as boutique properties.

Mr Veitch said the journey to becoming a business travel retailer was focused on always putting the customer first - to help increase value, cut the cost of business travel and enhance the wellbeing of travellers.

"Our suite of Smart products, which now includes SmartSTAY and SmartDRIVE, provide options to help businesses reduce their travel costs while also improving the traveller’s experience and productivity.

“Travel cost management has always been a priority for businesses but recently there has been a growing emphasis on traveller wellbeing, he said. "More companies are recognising that a poor travel experience impacts productivity. SmartSTAY provides value-added extras that can make a big difference to a traveller’s level of comfort without blowing the budget.

“Our corporate clients have given us very positive feedback about SmartSTAY and the program is starting to influence which hotels they book.”

The early success of SmartSTAY has also generated growing interest among hotel suppliers.

Sharon Byrne, global director of consortia sales for Langham Hospitality Group, acknowledged how much positive traction SmartSTAY had achieved with the corporate market.

“When we were invited to participate in SmartSTAY we recognised it was an important opportunity for Langham to strengthen our point of difference in the market, give our hotel guests more value, and further build their loyalty with us,” she said.

“We’re excited to be part of the global SmartSTAY program and have already benefited from its success.”