ImEx Cargo founder and CEO, was interviewed as part of The STAT Trade Times article looking at how the role of GSSA is transforming – changing strategies and using digital tools.

The digital era has offered a slew of new services to the General Sales and Service Agents (GSSA) industry, allowing airlines to book flights online in a matter of minutes. According to some industry analysts, the traditional sales method is still dominant today, and many airlines still use the conventional method of cargo space booking. On the other side, several GSSAs are exploring the digital domain in order to appeal to a wider range of consumers, including developing online booking capabilities and embracing third-party portals.

GSSA plays a significant role in the growth and development of the air cargo business. GSSAs are no longer exclusively appointed as sales and marketing agents in charge of selling air cargo space. Airlines are increasingly searching for organizations that can manage the end-to-end business activities of air cargo. Field and market studies, research and consultancy, sales, customer service activities, space control, cargo load, flight planning, and operational support are all part of the functions GSSAs do.

GSSAs’ agility and quick thinking have kept freight flowing through uncertain and chaotic times. The pandemic has been difficult for everyone in the business, and it has underlined the need for GSSAs to develop constantly.

Committed to the Age-Old Method

Around five years ago, the GSSA industry, which had previously mainly represented airlines’ sales and marketing, began to innovate and take on new tasks, including back office, cargo acceptance, booking, processing, and aircraft loading and unloading. Now, the industry is migrating to the digital platform for smoother and faster procedures. Digitization is a new sales channel, but some individuals still want to obtain information and bookings, straight from the GSSA by calling or sending an email.

“Customer relationships are still important. We need to be there for the client and the airline partner, and this takes communications, meetings, and planning as changes in the supply chain are so fast-paced. Since Covid, nothing can replace human contact, developed relationships, and friendships, even given how digital we have become. We are in a time of transition. Older generations still prefer phone or email instead of internet bookings where there is no human interaction. You can’t follow up with an internet booking, and the tracking still leaves a lot to be desired in a world of “REAL TIME” information,” said Michelle DeFronzo, President & CEO, ImEx Cargo.

What the Airlines Demand

In today’s changing times and cutthroat airline rivalry, the selection is based on a GSSA that demonstrates innovation and fresh approaches to traditional business. The cost and outcomes of employing a GSSA are the two main benefits for an airline. With the GSSA infrastructure, the airline can save a lot of money and obtain better outcomes with their well-established network. As a result, the airline is always on the lookout for a highly-skilled workforce to handle all of the airline’s activities. GSSAs have progressed from being agents who arrange cargo reservations for airlines to strategic partners that assist airlines in developing their business objectives.

“The role of GSSA is the added value of our relationships, communication, secure logistics, and problem-solving.  You really have to be flexible and adaptable to change. Many of airlines have added pressure from competitors entering their territories and diluting their market share, and lowering their rates. An airline GSSA can help by increasing their market share, especially in offline station territories where there isn’t as much competition. We add value to their existing services, working with their new and existing clients to ensure they are getting what they need at the local level and working within their current environment, which makes them most comfortable. This allows us to help them increase their market share, revenues, and service levels, providing solutions to our freight forwarding community,” said DeFronzo.

GSSAs are being held to higher standards by airlines every day. They are not just looking for cargo space to fill but also for honesty and integrity. The GSSA industry, on the other hand, is always on the lookout for ways to provide excellent customer service, whether through traditional or digital techniques. Inevitably, a digital platform would ultimately replace the old methods of cargo booking, particularly as the next generation of logistic experts train and develop who favor all things digital. GSSA’s future will continue to develop with more demand for digital performance and KPIs with advanced AI predictability. Airlines continue to experience workforce shortages, and GSSA expectations for expanded participation and accountability will only intensify in the coming years.

Click here to read the full STAT Times article.