Flight Centre Opens the World for Its Customers
The COVID-19 pandemic was catastrophic for a number of industries, but the travel industry was impacted even more so. But now that consumer demand for leisure and business travel is beginning to pick back up, the travel industry is scrambling to meet the voracious demand for bookings. Travel companies like the Flight Centre Travel Group are working swiftly to hire additional staff and match technology to the ever-evolving demands of their customers.
Chris Locke is CIO of Flight Centre, a global organization with businesses in 26 countries. They provide travel services for a variety of customers, from leisure travelers to corporate clients. Given the global nature of the business, Chris’ team is responsible for 24/7 system uptime so Flight Centre agents can work their travel magic with customers without delay. Downtime equals potentially thousands in lost revenue. The team relies on ThousandEyes to triage network issues in real-time, regardless of location. And since Flight Centre has moved to a more SaaS-driven technology model, the data provided by ThousandEyes also empowers Flight Centre to hold their technology partners accountable for their SLAs, which benefits the bottom line.
Watch as Chris Locke explains how ThousandEyes has assisted Flight Centre in bringing the business back up to full power and beyond to satisfy the large appetite of travelers.
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Q: Tell us about Flight Centre.
A: Flight Centre Travel Group is a global organization. We’re the biggest brick-and-mortar travel agency in the world.
Q: Just how devastating was the pandemic?
A: The pandemic was catastrophic, absolutely catastrophic. About 95% of revenue disappeared. We then closed, in Australia, about 600 of the 1,000 stores. It was an absolutely devastating period of time for us.
Q: How is business now that travel has opened up again? What effect has it had on Flight Centre?
A: Since things opened back up, we've seen a real lift in productivity in the stores, and we've started to see that it's returned with a bang. We have queues in stores. We need to keep our agents working. That means our IT systems need to be up 100% of the time—that's where ThousandEyes came in. And our ability to triage any problems quickly has been really important while we've been in this boom.
Q: How has ThousandEyes helped Flight Centre’s IT team support this surge in demand for travel?
A: ThousandEyes allows us to measure that experience in real time. We know what we're doing. We can see it. We can touch it and feel it now; whereas, once upon a time, it was a gut feeling. The team used the system globally to triage the problems that we have. It allows us to deploy agents rapidly around the world. We don't need to wait for people to be awake to be able to do testing nowadays. We can do that testing overnight and remotely, which is fantastic for the team.
Q: What benefits have you experienced?
A: Our MTTR (Mean Time to Resolution) in an incident scenario has dropped massively. We've gone from days and weeks, in some scenarios, down to minutes and hours, which is fantastic.
Q: Flight Centre has adopted a SaaS-based model to manage its network and applications. How has ThousandEyes helped with this new operating approach?
A: More and more IT departments are using SaaS-based products supplied by other organizations, and we don't get to see inside how those things operate. ThousandEyes gives us that ability. It's absolutely amazing to have that sort of visibility and to be able to share that information back with the suppliers that we use to deliver these applications. It allows them to stick to their SLAs, and their contracts a lot tighter as well. The benefit for us is that our systems are available now 100% of the time, and we can hold our partners to account.
Q: What is your definition of success in this new business environment?
A: Success for me nowadays is absolutely delivering an amazing employee experience. Having ThousandEyes in our kit bag to be able to monitor and measure that experience in real time is absolutely brilliant. ThousandEyes totally sets us up for an absolutely competitive future.