Headquartered out of Munich, with 27 years under its belt, a network of 64 owned offices worldwide supported by a team of 500 employees who manage relationships with 2,50,000 industry contacts and average an annual turnover of one Billion US$, AVIAREPS’ business model goes beyond promotion, as they seek to influence where people go, how they get there, and what they do when they’re there. TTJ spoke with Robert Obolgogiani, Executive Vice President, CIS & South Asia, and member international board of AVIAREPS on his recent visit to India to know more about his perceptions of how the industry is headed and the role they seek to play.
Gurjit Singh Ahuja
With a global group of local sales, marketing, and communications experts and a structure in place to launch targeted local initiatives, as well as multi-market campaigns that benefit from the powerful synergies across the globe, AVIAREPS strives to have its finger on the pulse of the industry to effortlessly adapt its clients’ message to the subtle nuances of the respective markets, cultures, and demands.
India is a multi-dimensional, multi-cultural fast-growing market of well-informed, affording, and curious travellers who constantly need to travel and discover and experience something new. Besides being an enigma of cultures, religions, languages, cuisine, and topography itself, India lures the world to itself to experience its mysteries and hidden wonders. This makes India a focus market for AVIAREPS.
Robert explains on his India visit, “Currently, we promote a lot of international travel products with an outbound focus, however, one of my key agendas for this visit to India is to look at enhancing and promoting inbound business into the country and I will be engaging with the Indian government agencies and industry stakeholders to look at working together to enhance international arrivals into India in this post-pandemic era. This shift to work on the inbound aspect will be a first for AVIAREPS.”
Talking about the work culture and dynamics at play at AVIAREPS, Robert elaborates, “For someone who would get restless every three to four years working for any company in my earlier days, I have now been with AVIAREPS for over 23 years, and I am also a part of its International Board.”
Robert, The Finnish Gold Medalist – 2017 in-flight aerobatics, in his spare time takes part in various ongoing competitions in his Extra 330LX aircraft and the rush felt by him in the skies is the way he feels working at AVIAREPS. Every day is new, with new challenges, new goal posts, and never a dull moment, and the same ethos percolates to each team member in the organisation.
Talking about global travel trends, Robert shares, “Global travel distribution, buying and selling patterns have seen changes and shifts over the last two decades which vary from country to country, continent to continent. Online market share has been on the rise, but so has the market size of travel products and services. Online players continue to grow and evolve and so are the traditional travel agents evolving. Their role as travel advisers and consultants is now more valued than before. Online products offer instant gratification but there is no substitute for authenticated travel advice of a specialist travel consultant who provides you with the essence of the travel product something more akin to the feeling you experience by really touching and feeling the fabric or experiencing how the shoe really fits you.”
Russia and Ukraine are big markets for AVIAREPS, and the current hostilities have impacted the business significantly. The uncertainties associated with this military conflict will take some time to stabilise, and all hope the armed conflict will end soon.
For India, AVIAREPS’ focus remains to enhance its client portfolio. For them, aviation is a major part of their global product mix, and they want to increase the size of this vertical for their India business. Besides, they have strong plans to be an integral player in the India inbound business. They will meet with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India officials to develop a customised plan and roadmap to enhance inbound tourism.
Reminiscing about the milestone moments Robert has experienced with AVIAREPS, he mentions, “There have been many down the years but the one that really stands out was when I was awarded the General Manager of the Year Award and this was in the very first year this award was instituted.”