Under new owner, Gogo forges an identity apart from Liberty
By Michelle Baran
When Australian travel company
Flight Centre Ltd. acquired the
Liberty Travel agency and wholesaler Gogo Worldwide Vacations
a year and a half ago, the new
company structure opened up an
opportunity for Gogo to create a
new identity, completely separate
from that of Liberty.
“Liberty and Gogo have always
operated separately,” said Dean
Smith, president of Flight Centre USA. But since Flight Centre
acquired the brands, Smith said,
“we’ve really established the marketing area in Gogo. They used to
share some resources, [but now]
Gogo has its own marketing team
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with its own marketing
Before the Flight Centre acquisition, said Kelly
Segnello, Gogo’s director of
marketing, Gogo frequently
just repurposed Liberty’s
“We didn’t really have
our own identity,” said
Consequently, in the last
year and a half, Gogo
has changed its logo and
overhauled its brochures
and marketing materials
to present a cleaner look
“What we are expressing to the customer is
modern, vibrant product that is only available
through a travel agency,”
In January, Gogo de-
cided to remind customers of its
independence by adding an agent
locator to its website, enabling
consumers to search for nearby
agents who are Gogo partners.
Behind the scenes, other
changes are afoot. In addition to
increasing the sales force at Gogo
such as Australia, Southeast Asia
and the United Arab Emirates.
On April 28, Flight Centre
introduced a new booking platform, Calypso, which is available
to Gogo agents for all 2010 bookings.
Michele Kish, president of
Gogo, said, “As we move forward
there’s going to be a lot of bene-
f its for our travel partners.”
They’ll be able to get e-documents, for example,
a nd have the ability to
view reservations on Go-
g o’s website. “They’ll be able
t o go to one central place to
view all of their bookings,”
s he said.
Sinc e its acquisition by Flight Centre Ltd.,
Gogo Vacations has changed its logo and
updated its marketing materials.
last year by more than 50%, Gogo
has introduced destinations made
available through Flight Centre,
While the resources are
s hared, at the end of the day
G ogo and Liberty are still com-
p eting for the same inventory.
S o, perhaps after years under
t he LibGo name, the main dif-
f erence is that now Gogo has the
o pportunity to compete with a
stronger focus on its own identity,
both against sister company Liberty and against other wholesalers
and packagers in the industry.
Now, said Smith, “each business
is its own entity.”
GAP kicks off G Hotels business in Ecuador
By Michelle Baran
more control of our product” in
destinations that are highly trafficked by GAP passengers, Poon-Tip said.
While non-GAP customers will
also be able to book the properties, Poon-Tip anticipates the majority of rooms will be occupied
by people traveling on GAP tours.
Egypt, Morocco, India and China.
The move was a real coup for
GAP, Poon-Tip said, because Discovery Adventures is one of Discovery Communications’ largest
investments outside of TV.
“People [will be] eased by the
fact that they’re traveling with a
brand they’re comfortable with,”
Over the 10 months of
discussions with Discovery, Poon-Tip said much
of the negotiations involved education about
the current state of the
For instance, he said,
“the area of travel that’s
being hit the hardest is
luxury travel.” So, while
Discovery wanted a luxury product, GAP is creating something more
along the lines of what it
offers: midrange travel,
but with comforts.
The main difference between
GAP Adventures and Discovery
Adventures will be Discovery’s
focus on science and education.
Additionally, Poon-Tip said
that with GAP doing 84% of its
business through agents, it advised Discovery to do the same
and persuaded the company to
not be solely direct-to-consumer.
GAP Adventures will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year,
but it’s making a splash now, preparing to roll out a new logo and
website and open the first of its
new line of hotels, G Hotels, in
The Canadian operator’s CEO,
Bruce Poon-Tip, said during a recent trip to New
York that the firm is getting an entirely new look
to reflect a company that
has grown to 35 offices
around the world and
move 85,000 passengers
per year with 1,000 tours.
New products are part
of the new look. Last
month, the company
partnered with Discov-
ery Communications to
A photo provided by GAP Adventures superimposes G Hotels logos onto
launch Discovery Adven- its Quito, Ecuador, property, which opens in July.
And after the hotel
opening in Ecuador, GAP (an acronym for Great Adventure People) plans to open three more hotels this year in Lima and Cusco,
Peru, and in Costa Rica, with at
least two more to follow in 2010.
All the properties will be 40
rooms or fewer and were privately run hotels that are being refurbished. The hotels will “give us
A new ‘Discovery’
The new licensing agreement
with Discovery, meanwhile, enables GAP to launch Discovery
Adventures, an adventure travel
brand that will be bookable starting July 30 on the brand’s website.
It will offer trips to 30 destinations, including Peru, Ecuador,
the Galapagos, Brazil, Argentina,