Collaboration to boost coverage

Photo: Air Canada Cargo

General Sales and Service Agents (GSSAs) are critical in helping airlines achieve and maintain a global position. Through their strong, pre-existing relationships and networks, these companies help reach and penetrate markets quickly through their understanding of local market dynamics and trends.

  This connection to the target region provides information and insight, allowing the airline to focus on providing services and building a brand that local customers can trust.

GSSAs also support interline partnerships, working to further sales strategies globally by serving as an extension of the airline’s operations.

  “Leveraging the expertise and local knowledge of GSSAs enhances our sales approach and market position in different regions around the globe,” Matthieu Casey, Managing Director – Commercial at Air Canada Cargo, stated. 

“GSSAs help us quickly establish a foundation for our business in five key ways: Providing local expertise, bringing established networks and relationships, offering a deep knowledge of the local market, being our ears on the ground for customer feedback, and helping us to navigate and be proactive about any local complexities in different international markets.”

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Hand in hand

The key to having a strong relationship between an airline and GSSAs is collaboration, trust, and transparency, working together as if they are the same entity, sharing tools and aligning on objectives and targets.  

The tight collaboration between Air Canada Cargo and its GSSAs can be seen in the approach to both customer relationships and industry leadership initiatives. 

Both work closely together on request for proposals and business reviews, continuing this collaborative approach when it comes to regular customer visits and participating in key industry events.

“To foster a cohesive working environment, we ensure that we share data and certain systems with our GSSAs so that they are working within the same environment as our sales teams,” Casey explained. 

“It’s critical to have that seamless integration for them and wherever possible we implement APIs to create better process efficiencies between us. 

“In addition, our GSSAs are included in our annual global management meetings and we communicate with them regularly to keep them, and the rest of the commercial teams, updated on business priorities and objectives,” Casey added.

Tailored strategy

A commercial sales strategy is not a one-size-fits all approach that can apply to all global markets. GSSAs help airlines to better understand how to adapt best practice approaches for different markets. Often, GSSAs also provide local knowledge on how to better navigate the cultural, regulatory and operational nuances, and specifics of each region, securing a presence and delivering within the market. 

“Close collaboration with our GSSAs allows us to quickly adapt to changing market conditions and fluctuations, especially in an industry that is as dynamic and competitive as ours,” Casey stated.

“They provide us with key insights on regional supply and demand, common practices, and cultural differences. 

“As they have access to many of the same tools that our internal sales teams use and by maintaining open lines of regular communication, we’re able to be agile in order to quickly capitalise on opportunities or mitigate any potential risks. 

“This means that we’re able to respond to market conditions in a timely fashion.”

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Reshaped role

One of the trends that is foreseen in the future is that GSSAs will offer more of a one-stop shop model, where they provide sales, customer service, billing and operation/handling services all in one. 

Some GSSAs are already offering their services this way, and airlines see this as a trend that will increase. 

“As we continue to deepen our relationships with our GSSAs worldwide, we will continue to find ways to strengthen our collaboration, better integrate our tools, and offer an even more holistic approach to deepening our customer relationships,” Casey concluded.