Stark was a key presenter at a session for New Zealand-based suppliers that took place at the Flight Centre building in Auckland on Tuesday. The event was also attended by Flight Centre Brands’ executive team and included introductions and welcomes by FCTG NZ managing director Victoria Courtney and general manager Heidi Walker.
‘Channel optionality is important to us,’ says Stark. ‘We still have the shop network but we are seeing the online option attract a younger customer.
‘Online currently accounts for about 15% of our business. Our third offering is specialisation – customers are paying for the expertise of specialists and we see that growing to about 15 and 20% over the next 10 years.’
He says smart stores, combining a digital lens with human expertise, is the future.
‘We want to create a digital savvy ecosystem for both the consultant and the customer, so we see the next 10 to 15 years as being a digital journey to becoming an Omni Travel Retailer.’
Stark’s key message for suppliers was to keep things simple. ‘Make it easy for each of the channels, for consultants and for the customers.
‘We want to sell more on line that is non-complex and simple. Where there is a need for expertise and to handle a complex booking that should be through the shop network – which is where the strength of optionality comes in.
‘We are known as flight experts but we are now holiday experts. We are looking at a four plus components strategy. Take the flight, plus a cruise, plus accommodation, plus insurance and whatever else – that is how we get to the four plus.’
Stark also noted a number of trends in the industry. ‘Seasonality is back and customers are being flexible with carriers and routes. The rise of cruise is a big driver of business and tour is the next frontier. Selling tour and cruise is important for us.’