THE Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX: FLT) has underlined its commitment to expanding its digital presence by creating a new global leadership position to oversee future growth.
The company, which last year added Boston-based StudentUniverse and BYOjet.com to its stable of online brands, has promoted Atle Skalleberg to the newly created role of chief digital officer (CDO).
Mr Skalleberg, 34, was previously StudentUniverse’s managing director and has played a key role in the business’s success as it has become one of the world’s leading travel booking services for the student and youth sector.
As CDO, he will play a central role in setting FLT’s strategies and improving the group’s digital commerce capabilities – including its online presence, user experiences and booking services – to help the company become the global leader in blending offline and online travel services and meet the demands of tech-savvy leisure travellers.
In his new role, Mr Skalleberg will work with teams in Boston and Brisbane to provide e-commerce, mobile development, online marketing and business intelligence services to FLT’s leisure brands globally.
He will continue to be based in Boston, which will provide FLT with access to top talent, a world-class high tech community and StudentUniverse’s technical teams.
“Having a global digital leader will help us develop and execute on a clear digital commerce strategy, build a world class team and drive the digital transformation that will propel online and mobile services as part of our blended travel strategy,” FLT managing director Graham Turner said.
“The StudentUniverse acquisition became a catalyst for digital change management and Atle’s competencies make him the right leader for the teams that will continue our digital transformation.
“Our enhanced digital capability, together with our previously signaled investments in customer relationship management and mid office systems, will see us perfectly positioned to be the global leader in providing seamlessly blended offline and online shopping experiences that allow customers to transact or interact with us when and how they want.”
Mr Skalleberg will continue to work closely with StudentUniverse’s executive team to manage and grow the business globally and will continue to report to Dean Smith, FLT’s president in the Americas.
In addition to acquiring StudentUniverse and BYOjet.com during the 2015/16 fiscal year, FLT has developed a start-up virtual travel agency business, Aunt Betty.
Aunt Betty will be officially launched next month (August) and will target the online holiday package market.
Overall, FLT expects to generate in the order of $1billion in TTV from its new and established leisure travel websites during the 2016/17 fiscal year.