India features among the top five markets for Hahn Air. Kimberly Long, Vice President, Sales & Agency Distribution, Hahn Air, tells TRAVTALK what makes India an incredible market and their plans to grow it further.
How does Hahn Air perceive the Indian market ?
We have a strong presence in India and we have established Hahn Air as the leading ticketing specialist in the market. However, we still see that there is great potential here.
We have 10 people working in India for Hahn Air and it’s our largest location outside our head office in Germany. We have four Service Desks globally, including one located in India with its own dedicated tollfree number. Currently, we have 343 airlines which can be sold in this market, while Hahn Air officially works with over 350 air, rail and shuttle partners globally.
Why are the rest of the airlines not available for Indian agents?
Usually, it is the airlines that tell us if we can sell their flights in a market. It’s their decision and, if they feel that Hahn Air contributes to their incremental revenue, they allow us to sell their services.
What is also invigorating for the Indian market is that in 2017 we experienced unprecedented growth with many new airlines joining our portfolio. There have been many changes in the Indian market last year, including demonetisation and GST. However, despite these changes, it’s important to note that airlines are not seeing them as hindrances.
Have you signed any other airline in India after SpiceJet?
Discussions like that take a lot of time to materialise. SpiceJet is our latest Indian partner. When an airline like SpiceJet joins Hahn Air’s H1-Air network, we help them expand their business by enabling GDS connectivity. The airline must let us know in which GDSs they want to be represented. While they might want to work with us in certain markets and GDSs, they might want to do business on their own in others. In SpiceJet’s case, the partnership with Hahn Air has helped the airline become established and provided it with a greater visibility for international passengers.
How have you seen the Indian market grow from what it was earlier?
I joined the company three and a half years ago. And at the time, we had one person in Mumbai and two in Delhi. In my first year, we saw continuous growth, and that hasn’t stopped since. One of the issues that Hahn Air faces is that not everyone knows us, as we don’t have a name like other legacy carriers. Thus, we need to teach people and we need to be given the opportunity to train travel agencies, so that our reputation and trust is established. While we are well represented in Northern and Western India we realised we needed to do more in the South. Hence, two years ago, we started operations in Bengaluru as well. We have seen lots of business development from Chennai and Bengaluru as a result. This has really helped us.
“We have people and support teams to assist travel agencies whenever they have questions. If agents see the codes HR, H1 or 5W in their GDSs and don’t understand what they are, they can always call us. We even have a new interactive website to handle queries and address training requests”
How different is it working with airlines, rails and bus services?
We have more experience working with airlines, so we can implement them quicker. When we talk about rail service providers, those are more complicated. They are not setup the same way as airlines in GDSs. Nevertheless, we are still developing this area of our business and look forward to bringing more rail partners on board. The ferry business is also something that we are looking into increasingly because we have seen that in certain parts of the world, this transportation is a preferred alternative and we want to ensure our customers have that ticketing choice.
What would be your strategy of growth in India now?
We have people and support teams to assist travel agencies whenever they have questions. If agents see the codes HR, H1 or 5W in their GDSs and don’t understand what they are, they can always call us. We even have a new interactive website to handle queries and address training requests. When there is trust in the market, people will automatically choose us because they understand our product and know it is good. There are other advantages of working with us too. For example, we have Securtix ®, which is the insolvency insurance in case any of our partners happen to go out of business. It’s something that we have invested in and it’s a part of our strategy to ensure travel agencies feel more comfortable issuing our partners on Hahn Air’s ticket stock.
What are your expectations this year?
We are very optimistic about 2018 and we hope it will be a very good year for all our partners in India. We will definitely continue to support our agents to ensure strong revenue growth in 2018. Keeping the travel agents in mind, we have kicked off the year by increasing our network from 300 to 350 air, rail and shuttle partners which can be issued on our HR169 document.