Name of Recipient:
Mr. Andrew Quake
Assistance Travel Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of the International SOS Group, was established on 9 January 1989. Managed by Andrew Quake, the company functions as a travel agency, providing air ticketing, hotel reservations as well as other travel related services. Assistance Travel’s goal is to deliver efficient and prompt travel services of top-notch standards to support the group’s needs. Basically, they offer support in three primary segments for the International SOS Group – medical and travel assistance requirements of members, concierge lifestyle needs of customers and business travel for employees.
When the company was first incepted, Andrew shared with us that the company encountered numerous challenges. First of all, they were not a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Thus, they had to purchase tickets from a third party supplier, resulting in high costs and low productivity rates. As their ticket sales were not registered with the various airlines, Assistance Travel found it difficult to get news and updates from the airlines. Furthermore, relying on third party providers put them at a pricing disadvantage.
Nevertheless, these tough circumstances bar the group from making Assistance Travel successful. With commitment and determination, the company was eventually given the opportunity to be a member of the IATA and authorised to issue their own tickets. Although Assistance Travel is a relatively small travel agency, they were even able to secure ticketing plates from major airlines, including the renowned Singapore Airlines.
Andrew mentioned that the proudest business achievement thus far was being able to aid with the Kota Kinabalu earthquake incident. They had helped transport 20 teachers and students back home despite the extremely tight timeline. “It was very challenging as the flights were closed for booking and no tickets were being issued. We had to liaise with airlines both locally and overseas to secure seats and had to find a way to creatively issue tickets for the flights,” said Andrew. Through this experience, it is evident that the company lives up to its name of assisting others.
When asked what sets Assistance Travel apart from the other market players, Andrew pointed out the company was set up as an internal company to provide travel related services to the various business divisions of International SOS. In this respect, they are different from other travel agencies that are formed for retail or corporate travel consumers. Additionally, the company is able to help with medical issues when on flight. For instance, they could be arranging for air ambulances or for the immediate deployment of doctors and paramedics when the need arises. They also can facilitate the process of obtaining the necessary medical air clearance in some cases.
On top of that, Assistance Travel also caters for concierge and lifestyle needs. They administer flight and accommodations for their colleagues at Aspire Lifestyles and package them in an end-to-end travel solution such as bespoke experiences and dining, for affluent clients of an International SOS Group business unit, Aspire Lifestyles. Apparently, there is an increasing trend for travel by the affluent segment. With the demand on the rise, it will lead Aspire Lifestyles to continue to invest in capabilities and resources to meet this trend, which will translate to large business volumes and scope for Assistance Travel.
For the coming years, International SOS is looking to strengthen Assistance Travel’s proposition in providing an integrated solution for international travel, medical, security assistance and concierge lifestyle travel solutions for their customers and members. This will correspond to the expansion plans for the company.
When asked, Andrew advises aspiring individuals who are looking to start their own business to be their own source of motivation. He added that it is also critical for one to be resourceful and to find a solid and reliable team. With these qualities, he strongly feels that one will be able to become an outstanding entrepreneur.
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