Flight Centre Travel Group has realigned the company’s leisure business in the U.S. and Canada and has named Marc Casto president of its leisure brands in the Americas.

According to Flight Centre, its new retail business model will see about 30 Liberty Travel stores in the U.S. reopen as stay-at-home orders lift. The stores have been closed since March 20 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, there were around 125 Liberty Travel stores in the U.S.

The 30 stores that reopen will become “network hubs” where travel agents can opt to work in the store or use the space to meet with clients and suppliers. Many agents will work from home, which Flight Centre said will give both agents and clients flexibility.

In addition to increasing flexibility, Flight Centre said, current retail trends point toward lower demand for physical locations from shoppers, which in part will lead to a reduction in stores.

Also, the Flight Centre's new leisure model in North America gives travel agents access to Liberty Travel and Flight Centre systems and products. 

Casto most recently was senior vice president of FCM Travel Solutions USA, a Flight Centre-owned corporate travel business. Before that, he was the president and CEO of Casto Travel in San Jose, Calif. Flight Centre acquired Casto’s U.S. operations in late 2018.

Although Flight Centre said Casto's is a new position, his duties are essentially an expansion of those previously handled by Dean Smith, who had served as president of leisure sales, USA, until his retirement on May 15. Casto's role has been expanded to include Canada as well as the U.S.

Flight Centre Travel Group USA was No. 6 on Travel Weekly’s 2019 Power List.

This report was updated on Wednesday evening with more information about Liberty Travel stores. It was further updated on Friday to include news of the retirement of Dean Smith.


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