First-ever Icons 2023 event sets sail for success

The inaugural Flight Centre Independent (FCI) Icons event sailed to success from 1 to 4 November 2023 aboard Uniworld’s S.S. Beatrice. The historic trip brought together 76 of FCI’s top-performing travel advisors and agency owners from across five continents for four unforgettable nights of celebration, connection, and learning.

First-ever Icons 2023 event sets sail for success

The FCI team was thrilled to host attendees from 55 independent agencies in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada. Allie Sparrs, Global Head of Brand and Marketing for FCI, noted that the full attendance from top agencies, with Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge also present for the trip’s entirety. Danielle Galloway, Global Managing Director, FCTG Independent and Premium Divisions, was also onboard, making it a truly international gathering of travel trade talent and leadership.

The Icons experience was packed with exclusive excursions and events courtesy of FCI’s esteemed partners. Guests enjoyed an intimate Trafalgar Be My Guest lunch at the Schieszl Winery near Budapest. The event welcomed an illustrious group of representatives including Uniworld, TTC Tour Brands, Adventure World, Lindblad Expeditions, Cover More, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Expedia TAAP, and Inclusive Collection, part of the World of Hyatt, creating a formidable networking and educational environment. Other sponsors who have supported the event and made a virtual appearance included Intrepid, AAT Kings, Back Roads Touring, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

The extravagant Singapore Airlines silent disco after-party was a highlight. Donning Singapore Airlines’ business class pyjamas elevated the celebratory spirit. From educational offerings to lavish treats, FCI pulled out all the stops.

SA icons
First-ever Icons 2023 event sets sail for success

This is what some of the South African attendees had to share:

Gary De Sa, top achiever of Flight Centre Independent: What an experience to be a part of the first Icons trip! I cannot believe how much fun was had as well as what we covered in such a short time, from experiencing three historically significant cities (Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna), to being exposed to interesting and unique offerings from our sponsors, to meeting and engaging with many of our peers from around the world and all of that while being spoiled rotten aboard the S.S Beatrice! Thank you so much Flight Centre Independent and all the sponsors that made this an unforgettable trip. This has definitely been one to remember and I am so excited for ICONS 2024!

Ane Steyn, of Flight Centre Independent: What a great way to travel! Experiencing Uniworld over four Nights was well spent celebrating in true Flightie style. Glitz, sparkle, glamour, style and gold – just some words that sum up this week! Pretty food, the comfiest bed ever, heated towel rails, amazing crew and Captain Jord (thanks for the Budapest tour guide tips). We made memories to last a lifetime, meeting up with our fellow Flight Centre friends and suppliers from five corners of the globe in Central Europe. Thank you to all the sponsors, suppliers and my fellow Icons 2023 for the best time.

First-ever Icons 2023 event sets sail for success
First-ever Icons 2023 event sets sail for success

Wendy Murray, Flight Centre Independent: What can I say? It was an absolute trip of a lifetime. Meeting colleagues and suppliers was a great treat. To spend time with colleagues from South Africa and share ideas and contacts, never mind with our colleagues from other countries too. It’s always good to know people in other countries if you ever need assistance with a destination or supplier in their country. It was also great to find out how their business works and what clients they have.

Our suppliers were just great; we were treated like royalty for the entire time. Our Uniworld hosts made us feel so special and nothing was too much trouble at all. I have to especially commend our South African TTC representative Kieran de Vries – what an asset they have in him. A really gracious host and a pleasure to spend time with. I feel very privileged to have had this experience.

The trip was not only rewarding for attendees but also underscored FCI and FCTG’s commitment to sustainability. The Icons event’s carbon footprint was offset through a collaboration between Allianz and Trees4Travel, working towards 100% carbon neutrality.

Chantal Gouws, General Manager of Flight Centre Independent Brands, summed up the historic journey: “As we reflect on the success of our first FCI Icons trip, we are immensely proud of the experience we’ve created for our distinguished top performers. Their dedication to their craft is what makes FCI the extraordinary network it is today.”

Whole group

The FCI team is already eagerly anticipating Icons 2024, aiming to continue setting the bar higher for celebrating excellence and bringing together the travel industry’s leading independent talent. The next Icons destination was unveiled on the final night at this year’s event: The Maldives will be the tropical backdrop where FCI’s top-selling agents from 2023 will be recognized and rewarded for their outstanding sales results during an exclusive trip next year.

The future looks bright, but for now, the memories of the inaugural extravaganza aboard the S.S. Beatrice will shine on.

2024 Icons destination reveal video:

Read related content: Navigating the marketing landscape as an Independent Travel Consultant with Flight Centre Independent

Contact FCI today for more information on how you can too can celebrate success as a leading ITC.