Flight Centre finds youthful voice online with StudentUniverse buy
Travel agency group Flight Centre has made an offer of $28 million to buy StudentUniverse, claiming the deal will boost its online capabilities.
The acquisition is waiting clearance by the shareholders of Travelonomy (StudentUniverse’s Ireland-based holding company) following approval by its board of directors.
Travel Centre says it also wants to capture more of the younger consumer market despite having a its existing Student Flights and GapYear (bought in October 2010) sub-brands.
StudentUniverse claims it is the largest online travel agency in the world for students and is expecting generate some $250 million in total transaction volume during 2015.
Flight Centre Group managing director Graham Turner says:
“This represents a unique opportunity to secure a profitable travel technology company with proven e-commerce solutions and a highly experienced and talented leadership team that has built a strong brand presence.”
The company says the acquisition will there will be a large amount of integration between the two brands, including sharing of content and deals (StudentUniverse is known for its negotiated student rates for flights) on air products and adding Flight Centre’s inventory of accommodation options.
There will be “cost savings” in the US where Flight Centre already has a sizeable network of 324 shops and businesses.
Fifteen-year-old StudentUniverse attempted to boost its own mobile credentials when it purchased the WeHostels mobile application for an undisclosed fee in November 2013.
Current CEO Alte Skallberg joined the company as vice president of marketing in 2005 and took the top job in March 2012.
He is expected to continue running the business from the US and will report into Dean Smith, Flight Centre’s president in the US.
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