Goldman, SmartFlyer mark 9 years of collaboration

Holtz, Pindar extol long-standing Goldman Group partnership

In 2024, SmartFlyer and Goldman Group are celebrating nine years of partnership and the formation of SmartFlyer Australia. In Australia this week to mark the occasion were SmartFlyer’s Michael Holtz, Owner and CEO and Erina Pindar, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner.

For background, Holtz established SmartFlyer in 1990 as a 25 year-old who was obsessed with airfares, hence the company name. Back in the 90s, airlines were much more active when there were e-tickets and they needed travel agencies to represent them, he tells LATTE. Air tickets accounted for some 98% of SmartFlyer’s business at that time. 

“He was the original ‘Points Guy’,” Pindar quips. Now, air is around 20% of SmartFlyer’s business (excluding private charter flights).

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Speaking exclusively with LATTE at Capella Sydney this week, Pindar says the association with Goldman Group in Australia continues to thrive. Their decision to align nine years ago was a “simultaneous decision. A mutual effort,” she adds.

“We’re working better than ever,” she says. Holtz is more concise, telling LATTE the relationship is performing “very well.”

Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director of Goldman, says: “Our advisors take advantage of the relationship, globally, that SmartFlyer has.

“It’s all about that partner-client-agency triangle, and really harnessing those relationships,” he said.

“And we see it day in, day out. A hotel brand, knowing that they’re working with a SmartFlyer advisor, there is no doubt that the experience for that client is enhanced. There is a better chance of an upgrade and special attention by the general manager. A lot of our clients like that level of relationship.”

Goldman continued, “Also having a worldview. We’re in Australia, we’re a long way from where a lot of the action is happening in the world. And just the ability to know that you’ve got a connection to the other side of the world. Yes, we’re a global company, and I think it’s really important. It enhances your worldview.”

Cheers to nine years of SmartFlyer Australia! Anthony Goldman for Goldman Group and Michael Holtz of SmartFlyer

Pindar highlights that the ideas exchange across continents “broadens your horizons”.

She shared an example of how one advisor modified their business model following an exchange and “looking at things slightly differently” following a roundtable discussion with a fellow SmartFlyer at the company’s annual summit.

Goldman shared another example regarding professional fees. “The relationship we have with SmartFlyer has given us the confidence, the storytelling that we inherited from the US advisors because they’ve been charging fees longer than we have in Australia.”

“Hearing stories how SmartFlyer advisors charge fees and the confidence and the way that they talk about it, the narrative, has given us the confidence in Australia to do the same, across the board. Because we’ve learned from them – that’s that’s one tangible example of the alliance.”

Pindar gave an example of how a SmartFlyer advisor from New York was open to review how a counterpart in Australia was broaching the topic with their clients.

It’s not about size

Currently, SmartFlyer Australia has 35 active advisors. Goldman admits the number isn’t huge, but it’s not intended to be.

“The quality of those advisors and the quality of their business is what matters the most. They all produce,” Goldman said.

“We’re not going to grow SmartFlyer Australia to 300 advisors. We’ll continue to grow with the right people.”

Pindar says, “culturally, that’s across the board anywhere that we operate SmartFlyer. We’d rather grow a little bit slower.

“SmartFlyer is not the agency for hobbyists. SmartFlyer is for people who want to build a business and build a career out of travel,” the entrepreneur said.

Goldman emphasises that SmartFlyer’s business owners “are in the business”.

“We are all very hands on. Some of the SmartFlyer Australia advisors will go to Michael for help to get them out of the pickle. And I’m online 24/7.”

“We own the company and we’ve got skin in the game with our advisors, whereas some of the other companies may be public or multi-layered management companies. If one of our advisors wants to speak with Erina, Michael, me, Brent, Stuart… we take their call. And we’ll call Four Seasons or Capella and resolve an issue or get help with a VIP client,” Goldman says.

Anthony Goldman, Erina Pindar and Michael Holtz at the Langham Hotel, Sydney

SmartFlyer Southeast Asia?

Quizzed by LATTE about a possible expansion of SmartFlyer beyond the US, Europe and Australia, and perhaps to Asia, Goldman said, “I think there is opportunity.”

“We’d probably play in Southeast Asia. We’d leave China to others. But I think there is opportunity with the ex-pat market.

“We are getting approached by Australians living abroad, and we’re looking at that at the moment.”

“We have had advisors over the years in Asia and we’re certainly open to expanding there, where it’s practical. Singapore, Hong Kong are obvious hubs as well. We’d look at that, absolutely,” Goldman added.

Holtz says the proof that a Southeast Asia business would work come from learning out of Australia.

“A lot of times the SmartFlyer Australia advisor will have clients in the US who may be using some of our content in the US to serve them, and you can easily do that from Southeast Asia too. They would have the Australian resources, or the US resources. And if the client is an American, or an Australian, it’s even easier,” Holtz said.

“The industry is somewhat borderless now anyway,” Goldman concludes.

Pictured from left at Capella Sydney, from left are Stuart Reay and Brent Wallace, Directors of SmartFlyer Australia; with Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director, Goldman Group; Erina Pindar, Chief Operating Officer, SmartFlyer and Michael Holtz, Owner/Founder and CEO, SmartFlyer.

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