HRS to open South Korea office, eyes Asia expansion

tobias_raggeTobias Ragge

CORPORATE travel solutions provider HRS has trained its sights on expanding further in Asia with the opening of an office in South Korea its current priority.

Local presence in Asia for the Cologne-headquartered company currently comprises Singapore, Japan, India, Hong Kong, China and most recently Australia.

HRS penetrated the Australian market a few months ago by purchasing equity in business travel specialist The Lido Group, while its opening of a local office in Mumbai was completed earlier this year as a means to better support its customers there.

“We need to be in forty plus markets in the next two years, so we can either do it organically in important markets ready for us to enter directly, or through partnerships in markets that are not so easy to enter direct,” Tobias Ragge, CEO of HRS told TTG Asia e-Daily during his recent visit to Singapore, the company’s regional homebase.

Partnerships aren’t confined to acquisitions alone, he said, pointing to the close ties it has with Chinese GDS TravelSky. “We’re thinking about how we can use the ecosystem to bring fast value to our customers and that’s what we’re going to continue doing, while at the same time look at M&A opportunities.”

Ragge added that HRS is currently in the midst of opening a local office in South Korea.

When asked where offices are opening next, he said: “We go with the flow of the markets, meaning we see which are the next biggest markets we need to cover for our corporate partners.

“Indonesia is definitely one of the markets we will look at but I cannot currently tell you when and how.”

The acceleration into Asia comes on the back of China overtaking the US in total business travel spend at the end of 2015.

According to research by GBTA, China recorded US$291.2 billion in corporate travel spending compared to US$290.2 billion recorded for the US in the same year.

“From a business travel perspective, China is already number one as the biggest corporate travel market, having overtaken US since last year. You have five out of the ten biggest business travel markets basically from Asia. Then you have growth markets like Indonesia which will be very big,” commented Ragge.

“We see the century of Asia is coming. Direct investment will increase in all the markets. If you want to be a global player but you are not part of the Asian markets, then you can never become a global player.”

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