Moving beyond ticketing
Akbar Travels is looking at enhancing its portfolio with ancillary revenues from segments such as cruises, insurance, visa, etc, says Amey Amladi, COO, Akbar Group.
Evolution of the ticketing consolidator
Akbar Travels started off as a wholesaler consolidator. But today, the company is present in various verticals like cruises, insurance, foreign exchange, tour sections, etc. In fact, now, we also have our own B2B and B2C portal as we want to be a complete travel solution provider. For the passenger who walks into our office, not only should we give him the best of fares but also the best of ancillary revenues in terms of hotels, insurance, etc. While benefiting from the non-air products, there is a dire need for agents to invest in the right tools and solutions to enhance their efficiency and in turn save cost.
Visa issuance: The new opportunity
We have forayed into visa services and recently the company has forged a partnership with the Dubai-based Dnata to offer these services to the UAE- bound travellers from India. Today the largest number of outbound travellers from India are going to Dubai and Bangkok. Considering we have 105 offices across India, with each branch giving us one visa a day, we can do up to 100 visas. Currently, Akbar Group is doing about 80-100 visas a day to Dubai. This is a new opportunity for our company and this has enhanced our portfolio. In terms of other visas, we obviously go through the respective consulates and keep updating our website. This has helped us in increasing the profitability of the company as well.
Akbar Travels started operations way back in 1978. Today we have over 102 locations pan-India under our kitty. The group has 60 IATA offices and 45 other branches in the country. We have 22 offices in the Gulf and New York and Houston as far as overseas operations are concerned. The group is launching operations in London in the next two months and then in Malaysia.
The growth story in 2014
With a politically sound government at the Centre, the year should end on a positive note. Overall, the Akbar Group has witnessed growth of 10-12 per cent in domestic ticketing (including full service carriers and LCCs) and 22 per cent in terms of international ticketing (international carriers). The revenues from our insurance vertical have increased significantly. The group witnessed 18 per cent growth from this segment. The other segment that drove growth this year was the cruise vertical which showed a 12 per cent rise.