Making Travel Simple
By Dillon A. Meilleur
In a world where quantity seems to reign supreme over quality, one Canadian-based company is striving to make a difference.
Founder and CEO of FlightNetwork.com, Naman Budhdeo has carved a path for Canadian travel agencies. FlightNetwork’s wild success has made them the largest Canadian-owned online travel agency in Canada. Nine years after its conception, Naman is the proud proprietor of a globally established travel powerhouse that competes with large corporations such as Expedia.
Naman first became involved in the travel business in his youth. He was introduced to the world of travel by his mother, who owned and operated a successful travel consolidation company for over 30 years. Naman was no stranger to the business; he was born into the industry and his lifetime of immersion and experience in the travel business has helped make FlightNetwork an industry leader in Canada.
Software that would change the industry
Naman’s first business venture was a company that specialized in travel software. This was in 1999, when the internet was first being used for personal applications. Over the years, Naman noticed an inefficiency in his mother’s company. It would take several hours just to compare prices and travel agencies, a long and painful process that wasted time and money. Naman’s newly developed software would shorten the shopping process down to only a few minutes. “What I did was I built a company that put all that information on the internet for multiple consolidators, and allowed the travel agents to not only search, but book online,” Naman said. This revolutionary technology transformed the way online travel agencies operate in Canada.
From that pivotal point Naman grew his business into something unimaginable. FlightNetwork came to life in 2005 and is proudly Canadian-owned and -operated. He took the cutting-edge technology he developed and combined it with his mother’s fair pricing philosophy to launch FlightNetwork, an online travel agency dedicated to providing its customers with an array of quality travel services. Today, they have approximately 375 employees and the company is rapidly expanding globally, with offices in Oakville, Mississauga, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai. In fact, FlightNetwork.com is the second most visited online travel site in Canada behind Expedia.
One of FlightNetwork’s pillars of success is their revolutionary technology. They confidently stand behind their innovative software, which has proven to be extremely successful. “We think we are really ahead of our competitors,” Naman said. Unlike many other travel agencies, FlightNetwork doesn’t use bot technology, a type of automated program that runs over the internet.
Tapping into the online market
FlightNetwork started to expand and grow exponentially in their first year. In 2005, very few travel agencies advertised online, and FlightNetwork pounced on this untouched market. They took full advantage of the untapped advertising market in the travel business and along with pioneering game-changing technology for the industry; they also led the way in online marketing.
The company is forever evolving and building upon their success. Naman has strict criteria for selecting new employees; they must be skilled, talented and experienced. He searches far and wide to find the best employees to join the team, made up of dedicated, hard-working and extremely accomplished people. Naman attributes the great success of FlightNetwork to their talented staff.
“None of this would be possible without the team,” Naman said. Over the last few years FlightNetwork has worked hard to develop mobile software for iOS, Android, and other emerging platforms, trying to stay one step ahead of technology. The company has a promising road map laid out for the next few years, realizing that innovation never takes a break.
The FlightNetwork Difference
FlightNetwork isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill travel agency. They go above and beyond the norm, offering their customers superior service and an array of choices that now includes hotel reservations and car rentals, along with flights. They also offer a unique Price Drop Protection program: If a customer purchases an airline ticket with FlightNetwork and the price drops, they’ll provide a credit for the difference. Another popular benefit they offer is their Best Price Guarantee program, promising the best price of any travel agency, or they’ll beat the price or give the client a full refund.
Over the last 10 years, FlightNetwork has transformed itself into something untold. Through hard work, dedication and perseverance, Naman has created an empire that changed the way Canadians travel. He has been recognized for his success by industry authorities and in 2010 received the 40 Under 40 Award, a distinguished honour. But he didn’t stop there. For five consecutive years Profit Magazine has named FlightNetwork one of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies. Naman was also a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2008 and 2009. FlightNetwork’s success and popularity speaks for itself, and quite loudly.
A Word of Advice from the Travel Whiz
Through years of experience, Naman has developed a key sense of what it requires to be successful in the travel business. He recommends that anyone starting out in the travel industry hire the best talent they can find. Hiring the best is much more expensive, but it will pay off in the end, realizing that you get what you pay for. If you have a great idea that truly adds customer value, pursue it and don’t be afraid to take a risk. Naman also suggested that it’s often better to own 50 percent of a large profitable company than 100 percent of a mom and pop shop. He referenced the David and Goliath story as a prime example of overcoming enormous obstacles. “Just because there are established global multi-billion-dollar companies doesn’t mean you can’t compete against them,” he said.
For more information about FlightNetwork and their travel services, visit www.flightnetwork.com