Sunday, July 21, 2024

Priority Pass eyes premium lounge services

Mumbai: India is a sunshine market for Collinson Group, that runs the popular airport lounge access programme, contributing around 50% of its overall volumes in the Asia Pacific.

Post-covid, it had launched the Priority Pass Access India, an India-focussed programme, which allowed Indian travellers access the lounge areas at Indian airports even if they did not have a priority pass membership.

The company has benefited from partnering with 50-plus lounges in India, and has significantly grown its business. However, the growth has also resulted in massive crowds at airport lounges, and Collinson is looking at a premiumization strategy to address the issues, said Sumit Prakash, country director, India and South Asia, Collinson Group.

“We have been seeing such queues, particularly in peak hours at major airports, where it is difficult to get into lounges sometimes. We have realized and we are working towards a strategy of premiumization as lounges have been commoditized quite a lot here,” he said.

India’s travel and tourism is leading the recovery in its key markets and the company has reached 104% of its pre-covid traffic. “There are a few trends we can see in Indian consumers. One, Indians are looking forward to travelling internationally more than what, let’s say, the Chinese did before the pandemic. There is a trend to spend for premium experiences among Indians like lounge or seat upgrade.”

Comparing travel to bloodline for any country, he said today, people from outside of India want to invest in India, and Indians, due to the rising affluence, want to go out. “So it’s a two-way traffic that is building up and I think that is something which will help the Indian economy also reach the $5 trillion target.”

Collinson is the largest firm globally, in the airport lounge business with over 40 million Priority Pass members, out of which approximately 10% are from India. The company has a tie-up with over 1,300 airport lounges and travel experience across over 650 airports in 148 countries. Active Priority Pass members in Indian make an average of 2.5 visits per year.

“We used the two years of lockdown to put in place the partnerships for the programme,” Prakash said. “We have partnered with Pinelabs, our tech provider to access lounges, and PoshVine which was taken over by Razorpay. We try to provide the best customer experience, and that’s why we partner with the best guys in the business.

“We try to onboard he lounges which are even in tier II and III towns. We look to enhance the inventory, and the partnership with PoshVine will enhance our bouquet of offerings beyond lounges.”

So now, we are able to offer things like meet and greet, premium airport transfer, spa, sleeping pods, etc. Very soon we will also be launching two or three more services, which we believe are very relevant and the customers would love,” said the senior executive.

He also said that while lounge access is a fascinating and a hero benefit, financial services will have to understand that it can’t be one size fit all.

“For banks and credit card issuers, travel and entertainment are the major expense categories. And as long as they can provide relevant benefits to their cardholders they are able to connect and build an affinity. So lounge obviously is going to be the hero benefit always. We are trying to work with our partners to ensure the queues get distributed. For that, we are working on how to segment the customers appropriately,” he said.

The idea, he said, is to offer something for everyone, but not the same thing.

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