Jeet Sawhney, MD, Abacus India speaks with T3 about their new initiatives
Overall, 2013 was a great year for Abacus and we notched a growth of 50 per cent over 2012. We secured Via.com, a leading online travel agency as a new client, adopting Abacus technology to help it scale its domestic and Asian operations. It has been matched with a steady rise in booking volumes, continuing into this year. India is expected to expand online by 62 per cent to US$6.6 billion by 2015, representing over half the total air market (Phocuswright). We’ve benefitted from a good share of that, supplemented by the pull factor from outside India. Moreover, Abacus Mobility Suite is now making it possible for suppliers to reach into tier II and III cities in India for growth. It’s one of the reasons we’ve established so many branch offices - to expand and network alongside our customers.
Abacus TripAlert is a new service that we have rolled out simultaneously across all 31 markets in Asia Pacific. The content is global and accessible online. It is perfectly suited to the web-enabled Indian travel agent and business communities.
Indian travel agencies can package Abacus TripAlert into their service offering in accordance with local market conditions and contract terms. We have a number of high-profile customers trialing Abacus TripAlert now and it will be interesting to see whether they want to offer it as a value-add or charge for it.
The service will prove invaluable where a corporate client has travellers with itineraries in areas affected by all the numerous causes of travel disruption. They gain the insight to react to world incidents such as terrorism and health pandemics potentially compromising their travellers’ security. The data produced by it on a daily basis is remarkable. Aligned with PNRs, it is very powerful.
The big products for Abacus in India last year have been chosen by travel agents to create a better experience for their customers and for the operational efficiencies that help them scale their operations, while reducing costs. Abacus WorkSpace heightens productivity by 25 per cent and with better content aggregation and a rock-solid platform, makes booking 40 per cent more efficient. Abacus AutomationHub is designed to reduce many of the manual operational tasks of the travel agencies. Abacus Ticketing Express can issue 400 tickets error-free in just one minute and can help agencies save up to 70 per cent on their fulfillment operational costs by automating their pricing and ticketing processes. Last but not least, Abacus TripCase is a free smart mobile travel itinerary application that helps travellers sync itinerary details and updates.
On content front, Abacus has integrated over 600 airlines, including the largest portfolio of low cost and hybrid carriers in Asia Pacific. This is important in attracting business with the lowest available fares and then cross-selling high yield products.
During 2013, Abacus invested heavily in infrastructure with new offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Jalandar, Ahmedabad and Lucknow, to focus on manpower and deliver the best sales, training and customer support experience.
We participated in SATTE 2014 and saw an overwhelming response with close to 1000 visitors visiting the booth during the event. We also plan a tie up with associations such as TAAI and TAFI for ‘soft skills’ training exclusively for their members. We’ve got some special promotions for different sectors of the Indian travel community this year. Furthermore, we will plan joint promotions with our many airline partners to build brand awareness amongst Abacus agents and help market their different products and fare bundles.