ASSIST CARD, present at the Vitrina Turística de ANATO 2023

The brand presented its full range of offers at the Colombian event

Carlos Stefani. Chief Executive Officer en ASSIST CARD (Source: Travel2Latam)

During ANATO we were with Carlos Stefani, Chief Executive Officer at ASSIST CARD, who told us about the challenges facing the brand, what the current market is like and what is coming in terms of technology.

With what expectations do you arrive at ANATO?                                                          

The expectations are very good. We started a path of accelerated post-pandemic growth. For us it was an event that served to raise the level of awareness of people about the need to travel protected, something that is essential even beyond business because unfortunately negative things happen all the time and the probability of them happening is greater when traveling. All added to the additional complexity that when something bad happens to you while traveling it is much worse than if you run at home because you don't know how to handle it, with whom to handle it and because of the high costs that medicine generally has outside of our country. So, for all that reason, the pandemic helped us a lot to raise that awareness. The year 2022 was a record year from every point of view for us.

We exceeded, in some cases, 90% of our best pre-pandemic marks and now the challenge is to consolidate that as a new floor and continue to grow above that. Today the fear is disappearing and our challenge is to maintain that level of awareness, that people understand that everything is alright somehow, that the Covid seems to be under control, that the vaccines are available, but that a lot of other things continue to happen. People who get sick to their stomachs, people who have a heart attack, people who have accidents, all of this is unfortunately much more than a matter of health. Not to mention the issue of luggage: airports have not yet managed to recover their capacity to handle luggage, therefore it is a very present risk. Anyway,

What is the panorama of what is happening punctually in Colombia?

It is a country that recovered very quickly in terms of flights. Unlike other countries in the region that are still at 60-70% of flights, Colombia would quickly tell you that it recovered its pre-pandemic volumes. In fact, in 2022 I think that in the end it exceeded the volumes of international flights of 2019 and that a very good 2023 is expected. There are some issues: the VAT rate was increased and that it was expected to have an impact, but on the other side the price of the dollar dropped a little. So maybe there's some kind of net flaw there that helps keep people traveling. We in Colombia have been growing steadily. The brand has an important presence and is well established in the industry. I would tell you this about the country, but not as established as in other countries in the region.

The explanation that we give to this is that there is a greater propensity to buy our product when the weight of our product over the weight of the ticket is relatively low. In other words, when the Colombian travels to Europe he buys us, not to mention when he travels to more exotic and more distant destinations.

It costs more to sell him when they travel perhaps to Miami and from a point of view of the consumer's head it makes some sense. If I got a dusk for 200 dollars, I don't know if I want to buy the assistance for 150. That is the problem, which ultimately is a completely abstract vision of the risk of getting sick, having a problem in the United States that from the point of view of health cost is the worst destination where something can happen to you. So, we have a big challenge of raising that level of awareness also for the closest destinations where perhaps one sees it as an unnecessary expense, but in practice one can get sick or accident on any side or lose the bags.  

What are the main objectives that you set for this year?

We have a little the goal that what we achieve in Pandemia becomes the new floor and build on that, generate higher levels of penetration in these destinations in which it has historically cost us a lot, the closest destinations for the Colombian. We also want to continue with something that we started or that we manage to accelerate during the pandemic, which is to sell more and more robust products. This is something that also has to do with the social function that our product has.

For us it was always very bad scenario to sell a cheap product and forget about a second that this is a business that we have money. I had a lot of cases analyzing in my hand of people who had sold a product that had a coverage of $ 15,000 and that in the United States does not reach you for a day of hospitalization. So, a little the logic that we try to apply is what we know this is us. For the customer, and more for a Latin American customer $ 15,000 is a lot of money, but we have to try to have these products do not exist. There is a competition problem, which many times have competitors that, precisely, to sell cheaper appear with those products,

So, another of the great challenges we have is that and is linked to a decision that we have made and that is quite revolutionary in the matter of product, which is to include preexistence within the product. Today we have a hybrid strategy with respect to persistence: all our products include a presence coverage and, in turn, we have created an additional that allows raising the amounts of resistance coverage- What do we think when we think of resistance? Let's see, it can happen at any age, but above all from 40, 50 and is increasing over the years, it is very common for one to have some pathology that may not be disabling. That is not why he is not going to travel and that is why we have to develop products that cover most of the travelers.

That is why I link it to you more and more to robust products that really serve the customer and not enter a competition game, which unfortunately there are competitors who do it with petty products that serve as long as you do not have to use them. You are very happy because you bought them and it was very cheap, but if you have to activate it, you realize that they have a lot of exclusions or that even what they said to cover it, it covers very low motorcycles.    

Can you tell us what's coming next?

that attention is given within 20 seconds. That is, really something that for the client is a very satisfactory experience. But on the other hand, there is another type of assistance in which you may not want to call on the phone, be on the phone talking to someone because you lost your luggage. That is something that can be handled. It is more practical to do it by chat with a bot on WhatsApp or within the application, it has no utility to talk to someone.

In short, what we are looking for is technology at the service of the best customer experience and that is why, in general, our solutions are hybrid. It is not that they kill the human factor and we force you to manage everything through WhatsApp or through the application, we leave it open for the customer to choose and we do try to direct them towards what we believe will be a better experience. In summary, going to the question, we are going to continue advancing on the development of WhatsApp and adding it to the bot because the idea is that they are automated assistance so that you do not have to waste time talking to a person. We are working to improve telemedicine, a bit of what we talked about before, depending on the country, sometimes it has some limitations with the prescription part, the telemedicine saw you.

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