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Vasco Worldwide: Customisation is key for growth

With a global footprint across 35 countries and keen focus on a one-stop-shop concept, Vasco Worldwide has the right strategies in place. Mahesh Anchan, chief operating officer of Vasco Worldwide talks to TBMEs Charmaine Fernz on plans that lie ahead…

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Mahesh Anchan, chief operating officer of Vasco Worldwide

Vasco Worldwide (Travel & Value Added Services Company) was set up around three to four years ago with the objective of being a one-stop-shop for all travel requirements. Vasco Worldwide is located in areas where there is constant flow of people who intend to travel. Proximity to the visa application centres encourages to leverage existing footfalls. Having understood customer behaviour through internal customer assessment, we then got down to working out the products to offer which were initially about five to six verticals.

Product Portfolio

Vasco Worldwide offers bouquet of services including Travel Insurance, Travel Concierge – Airline, Hotel & Package booking, International Driving License, Visa Concierge, Car Rentals, VAT Refunds and Telecom products.

The first segment explored was travel insurance. This looked lucrative as most destinations have made insurance mandatory especially prominent locations like Schengen. It was also understood that people preferred to take an insurance to be safe. The next most obvious choice was to expand the line of business with Travel concierge which focuses on travel planning aspects like ticketing, hotels and visa documentation assistance. This was necessary as even the most affluent people who are frequent flyers, require support regarding form filling, knowing the right documents to include with the application and scheduling appointment for application submission. This is where Vasco Worldwide aids a customer so that they can focus on their trip instead of spending time on the mundane travel tasks.

Telecom connectivity solutions were next most important offering we started. Providing customers Local/ International pre-paid SIM cards & cross border top-ups, we can now confidently say that we have service offering in about 38-39 countries at the moment, which is quite a substantial presence. International Driving Licenses was the next area of focus as travellers wanted to explore destinations through self-drives. We then ventured into a retail option called Zaad specially catering for travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah. We are currently considering the option of offering attraction cards but this is being worked out at the moment.

Partnerships

Having structured our offerings, Vasco Worldwide certainly witnessed a good uptake in the insurance and telecom sectors. The next to pick up was travel concierge which caters to not just regular customers but corporates too. Enhancing the product even further, there are also country-specific products. For example, in Dubai, we are exploring the option of working on immigration based products for customers looking to invest in the UAE. A kiosk at the Vasco Worldwide centre will showcase all the investment opportunities.

Vasco Worldwide is also extending current relationships in new segments like pick up and drop products, meet and greet , attractions , and innovative products in insurance.

Expansion strategies

Vasco Worldwide certainly feels the needs to adopt the right technology. In keeping with this thought process, the company has announced a soft launch of its website – onevasco.com – the idea is to get all products available online, which will be implemented in the second phase. However, the complete launch of the website would be in another six months, once we understand buying patterns of our customers. The next step will be to localise the website in important markets such as the UAE, CIS, China and India. However, for this, we will need to understand language limitations and buying patterns. Once this is achieved, we would also look at replicating the same model in a mobile app. Besides digital space, we are looking at opportunities of improving our current locations as well as moving away from core locations to high footfall areas like airports, etc.

Market understanding

With a well-thought of plan to capture the right market, Vasco Worldwide picks the UAE and KSA as the largest due to sheer volume of travel. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is big focus followed by China and Russia. The new markets being explored are Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Japan ,Bangladesh and few location in Europe. We are planning to open in Bangladesh in the next few months with three locations. We have also just opened in Nepal which is considered an emerging market.

The way ahead

Vasco Worldwide is constantly looking at opportunities to evolve product offerings. To cite an example, when we started travel insurance, it was just 10-15 insurance players but today, we work with 70 plus companies. With each player offering different products. On a similar note, the insurance product will see new additions such as student-based products and old-age products among the many others. There will also be a big focus on meet and greet services which is a big demand in the Middle East followed by Forex and lounge products.