How FlightHub Became Canada’s Fastest-Growing Online Travel Company
In a little over a decade, Montreal-headquartered FlightHub Group has grown to serve more than three million customers each year, positioning itself as a trailblazer and leader in the online travel industry.
Matt Keezer is the co-founder and former CEO of FlightHub Group and CEO of its parent company Momentum Ventures. He’s committed to creating impact-focused businesses geared toward reshaping the travel industry landscape.
We spoke to Keezer and Chris Cave, current CEO of FlightHub group, about the humble beginnings, challenges and values that have shaped the FlightHub success story.
“After selling our previous business in 2012, my partners and I were contemplating our next venture. Travel had always intrigued me, so we decided to explore opportunities in this sector,” he says.
Keezer and his business partners opted to use an off-the-shelf booking engine to get their new project off the ground. They leveraged their collective skills and experiences to build what would eventually become FlightHub.
Their new project presented some major challenges. The team was working with a limited budget, but they wanted to create value for their customers within a short time frame–without compromising on profitability.
In addition, while the team had a genuine passion for aviation, they had no specific expertise in the sector. This meant they had to learn quickly and adapt as they progressed.
Says Keezer, “We were lagging behind established players in terms of platform efficiency, booking experience, and content availability. We faced challenges on multiple fronts, including not having the advantages that come with economies of scale.”
Milestones and strategies
Early on, the FlightHub team identified a thorn in the side of the airline industry: Content fragmentation. Airlines were looking for alternative, cost-effective channels to distribute their content, moving away from the traditional Global Distribution Systems (GDS),
Recognizing this shift, FlightHub quickly developed tech capable of aggregating content from various sources. Their innovative approach allowed them to create unique itineraries and pricing options and distinguished FlightHub from the other online travel agencies.
Cleverly, the team was able to pinpoint a handful of niche flight routes that were underserved by the established travel companies and were able to create profitable opportunities within those markets—for example, a route from Canada to Romania and several from Canada to different locations in Africa.
“We continued this strategy of identifying and capitalizing on the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ in the market,” says Keezer. “This approach not only kept us profitable but also enabled us to become more competitive in a broader range of markets over time.”
FlightHub managed to become profitable within its second year, which Keezer says was the result of running a lean team of 20 and keeping costs as low as possible. This marked their first significant milestone, as the company transitioned from a start-up to a growing, sustainable business.
Early in 2014, they reached their daily sales target of 2,000 bookings, and by the end of that year, they began a successful expansion into the U.S. market. By 2016, FlightHub celebrated another notable achievement, reaching the 10,000 daily sales mark.
As the victories stacked up, the focus on strategy intensified. To expand their market reach and keep pace with the larger players in the travel industry, the FlightHub team knew they had to think differently and move quickly.
“We worked tirelessly to improve various aspects of our business, including offering better upsells, creating improved add-on products, developing user-friendly apps, and providing a faster, more cost-effective pricing strategy,” says Keezer.
Focusing on the customer
The core strategy for FlightHub, moving forward, is to continue to develop products that truly resonate with their customers. They understand that maintaining customer loyalty is an ongoing responsibility.
As Cave puts it, this means “creating exceptional itineraries and securing the best fares, rates and discounts available in the market.”
Keezer and Cave chalk up the growth of FlightHub to the committed team. “Our teams are dedicated to staying ahead of the curve. They’re constantly working to adapt and innovate, ensuring that we can offer better itineraries to our customers compared to our peers.”
For more information, visit flighthub.com.