Up­front

With 270 des­ti­na­tions Turk­ish Air­lines has the most reach of any global car­rier, ex­plains Adem Ek­mekci, Hous­ton gen­eral man­ager

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

One on One with Adem Ek­mekci, Hous­ton gen­eral man­ager for Turk­ish Air­lines. Mar­riott buys Star­wood. Meet­ings in­dus­try growth con­tin­ues

What does it take to win the hearts and minds of global trav­el­ers?

EK­MEKCI: In­ter­na­tional travel to­day, par­tic­u­larly busi­ness travel, is all about the ameni­ties, ser­vice and ease of con­nec­tiv­ity. Pas­sen­gers to­day want to fly a car­rier that un­der­stands and re­sponds to what they want and need, and that has been our driv­ing force at Turk­ish Air­lines. Busi­ness trav­el­ers look for three ba­sic things when se­lect­ing an air­line; a de­cent meal, good sleep and an up-to-date en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem. Turk­ish Air­lines of­fers all of th­ese. Also, it doesn’t hurt that we serve award-win­ning food in flight and of­fer our CIP Lounge in Is­tan­bul, which some con­sider the best air­port lounge in the world.

BT: Con­nec­tiv­ity is some­thing Turk­ish Air­lines has flour­ished on. What is the im­por­tance of that con­cept to the air­line’s fu­ture?

EK­MEKCI: We are an­tic­i­pat­ing a 17 per­cent growth in in­ter­na­tional trav­el­ers con­nect­ing through Is­tan­bul this year ver­sus last. This growth tells us that our net­work strat­egy is hit­ting on all cylin­ders and our ex­pan­sion ef­forts into emerg­ing mar­kets, as well as the US has been suc­cess­ful to date.

In par­tic­u­lar, we have made a big bet on our ex­pan­sion into the US and are see­ing suc­cess in that mar­ket as well. Not only are we con­nect­ing seven – and soon to be nine – US cities with the world via one-stop con­nec­tions, but con­versely, we are con­nect­ing the world to the US. BT: What can Busi­ness

Trav­eler read­ers ex­pect to see from Turk­ish Air­lines in th­ese new mar­kets?

EK­MEKCI: One of the big­gest chal­lenges we face in the US mar­ket is to ed­u­cate trav­el­ers re­gard­ing the reach of our global net­work. Some tend to fo­cus on the fact that we serve Tur­key and not that we are a global car­rier that serves more coun­tries than any other car­rier in the world. That means that as we launch new US gate­ways, we are also open­ing up tremen­dous pos­si­bil­i­ties.

We have seen this ma­te­ri­al­ize in our gate­ways across the US. In Hous­ton where I oversee the oper­a­tions our ser­vice has con­nected busi­nesses and leisure trav­el­ers with some very unique des­ti­na­tions.

BT: When Turk­ish Air­lines en­ters a new mar­ket, how does it im­pact that re­gion – for ex­am­ple your re­cent open­ing in Miami?

EK­MEKCI: Our strat­egy has been to con­nect global traf­fic through our hub in Is­tan­bul. The Miami mar­ket was in need of ser­vice like this. Our en­try into the mar­ket will ex­pand the con­nec­tiv­ity of Miami to the rest of the world by leaps and

bounds by offering on­estop con­nec­tions to over 270 des­ti­na­tions around the world.

BT: What’s the plan in Miami?

EK­MEKCI: On the cor­po­rate cus­tomer side, our sales team will be work­ing in the Miami mar­ket to share the ben­e­fits of fly­ing with us. Cor­po­rate trav­el­ers can also ben­e­fit from the Turk­ish Air­lines Cor­po­rate Club Pre­mium. Among other things, it pro­vides mem­bers with costs sav­ings, the op­por­tu­nity to change a reser­va­tion with no penal­ties and spe­cial bag­gage al­lowances.

BT: Turk­ish Air­lines’ slo­gan is ‘Widen your World.’ How do you think this idea fits in with busi­ness travel?

EK­MEKCI: As a truly global net­work car­rier, we are proud to be in a po­si­tion that we can con­nect the world. It seems like it gets smaller ev­ery day with all the ben­e­fits tech­nol­ogy of­fers us, but noth­ing can re­place the op­por­tu­ni­ties that present them­selves when you travel to a des­ti­na­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence it for your­self. The ‘Widen your World’ slo­gan serves as a con­tin­ual re­minder of that. It also in­vites our re­spected guests to go be­yond their nor­mal rou­tines and seek new ad­ven­tures in dif­fer­ent parts of the world.

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