Flight Centre Reimagines Travel Retail with Stunning New Travel Centre

If you’ve recently passed by the corner of King and Spadina in downtown Toronto, you would have noticed a gleaming addition to the traffic-heavy intersection. Incorporating a contemporary and sophisticated two-storey design and over 10,000 square feet, Flight Centre’s monumental new Travel Centre is open for business. And my, how times have changed.

Twenty-two years ago, a splashy, brash travel company took over one of the smallest storefronts on Bay St. in Toronto’s financial district, its emblematic firetruck red as striking as the ridiculously low airfares scribbled in magic marker next to destinations on the hanging, pot-lit window boards.

After a couple of successful starter years in Vancouver, Flight Centre Canada was ready to take its show nationally, deciding on the Bay St. location as its flagship outlet in Eastern Canada. The Brisbane-based outfit went on a massive hiring spree and began to scout other high-traffic locales that would help launch the Australian brand to the Canadian masses.

While its prominence in the travel retail landscape was always top of mind, another constant focus throughout the company’s rise has been the attention it pays to its people, affectionately called ‘Flighties.’ It is still the staff and their service that set Flight Centre apart, and nowadays, that means attentive, 24/7 service, complete with online chat and even texting as new ways to connect with their clients.

The business model overall hasn’t changed much though; company philosophies remain intact and the brand and its offshoots continue to thrive, including in the online space and e-commerce, with the recent purchase of a Boston-based, tech-focused online travel agency. Today, along with the leisure arm of the company, Flight Centre’s Corporate Traveller, CiEvents, FCm and Stage and Screen are all flourishing, and all have a spot in the new Travel Centre.

The airy foyer holds a long clean desk resembling concierge. Opposite the floor to ceiling windows, ultra hi-Def monitors loop mouth-watering travel destinations of current sales campaigns. The rustic marker-drawn window boards are now a flashy flap display.

The vision and design of the new space complement all aspects of the booking process, from trip planning in the building’s bright, stocked Travel Library and Chart Room, to mobile roaming staff with tablets. There’s an easy and inviting flow to it all. And when it’s time to get down to business, i’s get dotted and t’s get crossed behind handsome old steamer-trunk desks in the impressive Explorer’s Club.

There’s the dramatic floating Concorde Boardroom overlooking the retail area and trendy King St. West, and a multi-purpose event space with a solid 200-person capacity. With a penchant for entertaining, Flight Centre will no doubt christen it with a soiree to show off its new digs.

Call it a relaunch, a reset or reintroduction, the new Toronto Travel Centre perfectly showcases Flight Centre’s evolution from a classic travel retailer to one poised for both the here and now as well as the future.

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