Those who have doubts about the viability of bricks and mortar travel agencies in the future should check out one of the new Flight Centre Ultra-Shops for an argument against that outlook, reports western editor, Ted Davis in this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.
Flight Centre has just started to roll out the radically rethought locations, and the most recent has just opened in Vancouver. It’s the first full-service location in Canada, and it presents a compelling alternative model for storefront agencies, based on a comprehensive reimagining of the bricks and mortar concept.
The Ultra-Shop experience is one of designed consumer comfort and engagement. Exploration of the shop interior is encouraged by a more randomized layout of desks, tables and other furnishings. Gone is the long counter that reinforced an image of quick, discount travel shopping, Flight Centre style. Instead, Ultra-Shop customers have the chance to explore their travel dreams in a more casual setting, says Allison Wallace of Flight Centre Canada.
It is also a more upscale experience. That means that modern design considerations have been devoted to the Ultra-Shops, evident in things like the hi-def video screens situated on the walls like art, scrolling through libraries of eye-grabbing destination photos. “We wanted to create a place where people could have time to think about their travel dreams, while they’re still in the planning stage… then we can make a connection with them,” said Wallace.
The Ultra-Shop design calls for more space, and the downtown Vancouver flagship location has four times the floor area of its predecessor. A discovery “zone” at the front focuses on shorter trips, like city breaks, and is adjacent to the another info zone that specializes in sun escapes and beach getaways. Further into the store, another zone is devoted to cruising and custom programs that require more design consultation. A third area in the Vancouver Ultra-Shop, on the mezzanine, will also soon be opened. Visitors have access to a giant world map at the front of the store to help them generate travel ideas.
Click here to check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press – it’s our annual travel issue and it’s not to be missed.