Flight Centre expands in U.S. with Silicon Valley acquisition
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.
Australia’s Flight Centre Travel Group has agreed to acquire Silicon Valley-based Casto Travel’s U.S. operations as part of its mission to strengthen its North American presence.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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