ECS Group adapts to meet the challenge of online booking portals

Global sales agent ECS is diversifying its business in part to take on the challenge presented to the sector by online booking portals.

Speaking to Air Cargo News at last month’s Air Cargo Europe event, ECS Group executive chairman Adrien Thominet said the company had launched a range of new services over the last couple of years as it looked to diversify its revenue streams.

Of the new services, data capture, ground supervision, revenue optimisation and total cargo management were proving most popular with airlines.

Asked why the company was looking to diversify, Thominet said that it was only a matter of time before one of the online booking portals began to offer its services as a low-cost GSA.

“Before we were adding value to the airlines by bringing bookings, sales and admin.

“Today, through the platforms, they can do bookings and admin. And although they cannot so sales, it does still give them a marketplace to sell capacity.”

He added: “If we want to deny reality we will not change, and we will wait until it takes place. If we want to anticipate this change, we have to modify our activity by diversifying.”

ECS has partnered with the CargoAi booking platform through the CargoTech investment fund established by the group.

Thominet said this could perhaps form the basis of the launch of a low-cost GSA solution.

“We have a strong partnership with CargoAi. They could start offering a digital GSA low-cost solution but we will be linked to this one.”

He said this would allow ECS to offer both a premium product and a low-cost product, in a similar way to how legacy airlines have launched low-cost subsidiaries to work alongside their main offering and compete with new airlines.

Thominet added that the investments in diversifying the business were already starting to pay off.

He explained that although overall business was down – reflecting the overall market decline – the company had fared better than most and also the value of its services offered had increased.

“We have digital tools, which help us to optimise the revenues of the airlines and to reduce a little bit the cost, so in the net balance it is a positive development,” he said.

Airlines are also increasingly outsourcing because of the market conditions, he added.

“Now we are in a declining market situation, outsourcing solutions are more helpful because an airline will mitigate costs by having a variable cost instead of a fixed cost,” he explained.

Another big challenge faced by the aviation industry is recruitment. ECS took the decision last year to offer all staff pay rises that matched the level of inflation in their country as it looked to retain existing talent and show them that the company acknowledged the impact of rising prices.

The company is also implementing a 360-degree training programme where staff spend time with the finance, operations and commercial.

Thominet added that while recruitment is still a challenge, young people are increasingly open to joining the industry as it has improved in digitalisation over the past three years.

“Two years ago you were speaking to them and you would say you need to pick up the phone to make bookings – they looked at you like you are the Flintstones. Now you tell them they can make bookings on an iPad and they are happy.”

The training programme also feeds into ECS’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programme, something that is becoming increasingly important to investors.

ECS expands back office services with India addition

ECS predicts a rise in demand as airlines ramp up operations

Share this story

Related Topics

Latest gssa news

AIA appoints McInnes in UK cargo role

AIA Cargo has appointed Colin McInnes as its new vice president cargo UK as the firm looks to expand in…

Read More

Share this story

Days left to enter the Air Cargo News Awards!

There are now just days left to enter the Air Cargo News Awards, so don’t miss out on the chance…

Read More

Share this story

NCM scoops JetBlue GSSA deal for New York

Low-cost carrier JetBlue has appointed Network Cargo Management (NCM) as its GSSA in New York. The new deal started on…

Read More

Share this story

Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]