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Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG), one of the world’s largest travel agency groups, has a global strength and infrastructure that will now allow StudentUniverse to grow within existing markets, and scale worldwide, to become a firm leader in the student and youth FlightCentre-(1)travel segment.

Flight Centre has already gained solid momentum and expanded its presence in youth and student travel and the union will now provide a platform for the development of a youth strategy targeting 18-26 year-olds worldwide.

David Chapman, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation interviewed Atle Skalleberg, StudentUniverse CEO, about the recent acquisition announcement, as both companies are members of the WYSE Travel Confederation.

This marks a consolidation of the industry and we are keen to better understand what the implications are, alongside the enhancement to products and services that can be expected by youth and student travellers” says David Chapman.

Atle Skalleberg replies “There will now be a clear leader in the youth and student travel space. This is a massive market however it is fragmented, somewhat underserved, and with many smaller and specialty players. Now our integration plans are well underway we are going to deliver some great new services to our tech-savvy audience. The result will be expansion geographically, better and more products accessible both on and offline, meaning better service throughout the customer journey, and ultimately even better travel deals and greater savings”.

WYSE Travel Confederation is keenly aware of the positive economic and social impact young travellers can have on the destinations they visit, accounting for 23% of international arrivals each year and often eager to explore undiscovered places, leading the way as trendsetters for other travelling audiences. Do you imagine you will keep up with this dynamic and critical section of the market, and how will you add more value?” asks David Chapman.

Atle Skalleberg replies “Looking back, we have grown substantially more than the market. Looking ahead with this news in mind, we imagine that could even speed up. We will be a key player in opening up new and vibrant markets for these young global trendsetters, as well as ensuring we are offering a unique value proposition in the mature markets. It is not just about pricing and terms, we will stay one step ahead of the market offering the most relevant products tailored to the youth market.

Atle continues, “This is an extremely exciting time for StudentUniverse. Working alongside a global team with a phenomenal track record, we will have the resources to build an even bigger and better service. Our team will eventually help launch web and mobile services for millions of customers in dozens of countries, and the millions of young travellers that use our service every year will now have access to more travel deals than ever. It will be a branded service tailored to this young traveller who is becoming ever more mobile as they explore the world as part of their modern education.

Dean Smith, president of Flight Centre Travel Group Americas, was also quoted as saying “The student and youth market is one of travel’s fastest-growing sectors. Young travellers are critical to the entire industry and StudentUniverse has a proven track record in the space. They understand the demands of a young, tech-savvy user base and have incredible roots in technology. Combining their technology prowess with our global team and resources, I am confident that together we will change the course of student and youth travel.

It is clear that StudentUniverse will continue operating as an independent entity with CEO Atle Skalleberg at the helm, reporting in to Dean Smith, President of FCTG Americas. The expansion mentioned by Atle Skalleberg will see the company’s presence growing very quickly outside of North America.

The proposed benefits for millions of young travellers seems clear, as well as the opportunity to further raise the profile of this valuable market – a market valuable both in real commercial terms and also in the benefits to international cultural knowledge share and understanding.