Integrated 'transport solutions need of the hour'
Dubai, April 21, 2010
The disruption to travel and tourism industry caused by the volcanic ash, especially within the aviation sector, clearly illustrates a need for travel operators to consider integrated transport options to negate future risk, said an expert.
"The volcanic crisis showcases a future opportunity for airlines to implement a policy of horizontal integration into other forms of transport, such as sea and land, said Mark Walsh, group exhibition director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, organiser of the upcoming Arabian Travel Market 2010, the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism event.
“With Europe almost being a no-fly zone due to the volcanic activity, we have seen rail networks, cruise and ferry operators and car rental companies absorb the significant rise in demand, which has provided a short-term solution for stranded travellers," he pointed out.
"However, it has done little to counteract the huge losses being sustained by grounded airlines, which according to industry figures, equates to $200 million a day globally," Walsh noted.
This, Walsh said, opens the door for airlines to consider investing in other transport profit centres, which can be utilised in both terms of crisis and in the general day-to-day running of the business.
"By creating transferable tickets over various transport mediums, all operating under one brand, airlines have an opportunity to increase revenue and provide customers will a full turn-key travel solution, a factor which can only strengthen their positioning in an increasingly competitive market," he opined.
In the first five days of the situation, more than 6.8 million passengers had been affected, he said, citing reports.
"How airlines deal with this, will be a determining factor in the sector’s future success," he noted.
“The airline industry has, in my opinion, performed commendably in the face of extreme adversity by being extremely flexible, vocal and professional despite the growing uncertainty. This is now a real exercise in relationship management, and airline operators which go the extra mile to keep customers happy, will do extremely well in the longer-term,” Walsh observed.
“I think this also gives Middle East airlines an important opportunity to increase market share. Whilst EU-based airlines are obliged to provide compensation to stranded passengers, they are not. By proactively looking after their passengers, the region’s legacy carriers have the prospect of fostering enhanced relationship with current customers and creating new ones by demonstrating professionalism.”
In terms of attendance for ATM which runs from May 4 to 7 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Walsh said they would be carefully monitoring the situation and that it was premature to tell if it would be affected.
“At present, there has been no effect to exhibitor or visitor commitment. We are monitoring the situation and liaising with all parties, but at present it is too early to say. History shows the travel and tourism industry is extremely resilient and has a well-established pedigree in bouncing back,” he added.
With sign-up at 100 per cent, the 17th Arabian Travel Market is shaping up to is one of the most successful yet, offering visitors and exhibitors unparalleled access to networking and business opportunities, reaffirming the shows position as the Middle East’s most respected travel and tourism show, he noted.-TradeArabia News Service