Flight Centre purchases major stake in Priceline founder’s corporate travel platform

Travel agency giant Flight Centre Travel Group (FLT) has strengthened its presence in the corporate travel sector with a new investment.

The company announced today that it has secured a 25 per cent stake in The Upside Travel Company, a US-based, tech-driven business launched in 2017 by Priceline founder Jay Walker.

Through its investment, FLT will become Upside’s largest individual shareholder, and will gain access to a travel technology platform and software development resources that will enhance its offering in the SME corporate sector.

In addition, the two companies have entered into a commercial deal covering cooperation on various distribution initiatives that combine FLT’s understanding of the corporate travel space with Upside’s technical assets.

FLT managing director Graham Turner said: “Upside is an emerging corporate travel business with an innovative customer offering that has the potential to disrupt traditional offerings in the SME sector in the future.”

By investing in Upside, Tuner said FLT is effectively investing in a next-generation corporate online travel agency, and taking steps to future-proof its SME-focused offering, which is predominantly provided through the Corporate Traveller brand.

“[We are also] fast-tracking our overall growth in this huge travel sector by offering customers the benefits of a new, blended on and offline offering,” he said.

“This offering will be deployed in the Americas in the near-term, and has been earmarked for release in the UK in the medium-term.”

Walker, who founded Upside and is the company’s CEO, said: “FLT is the perfect partner for Upside as we get aggressive in serving small corporate clients.

“Not only does FLT’s global scale, content and experience immediately make our product more complete and more credible, but FLT’s people and expertise also make us smarter, which is key as we accelerate into the future.”

FLT’s share purchase in Upside follows the company’s recent investment in Bangkok-based 30SecondsToFly and the acquisition of mobile app Sam.

The investment also adds Washington DC to the list of FCM Labs, technology and innovation hubs located in Brisbane, Boston, Barcelona and Bangkok that are being used to develop new tools and products for FLT’s corporate customers.