Assist Card: Pioneering Thorough Travel Assistance for 50 Years
STORY INLINE POST
Q: How has Assist Card grown over the past 50 years and how has it consolidated as a comprehensive solution for travelers?
A: Assist Card has been a leading company in travel assistance for over 50 years, starting as a provider of assistance and advice to French travelers crossing into Spain by car. It was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, and later expanded into Latin America, starting with Argentina and other countries, including Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.
The company now has a global presence with offices in Asia, the EU and the Americas. In 2012, Assist Card was acquired by US insurer Star Company. We are known for innovation and dedication to travel assistance. The company has achieved remarkable growth, becoming a foundational leader in travel assistance in Latin America and exclusively dedicating ourselves to travel assistance for the past 50 years.
Q: Why is it important to travel with assistance and why should travelers choose Assist Card over an international travel insurance solution?
A: It is important to have travel assistance due to the possibility of unforeseen events, which can range from lost luggage to a medical issue. It can be difficult to handle these events when abroad.
A travel assistance product, such as Assist Card, offers personalized attention and follow-up. This includes sending a doctor to the hotel or transferring the traveler to a clinic if necessary. The cost of these services is included in the travel assistance product, which has no deductibles, coinsurance or copayments. In comparison, medical expenses insurance only reimburses the traveler after they have found and paid for a doctor themselves. In addition, Assist Card has a leading app that provides immediate communication with an assistance operator.
Q: How does Assist Card leverage its wholly-owned global infrastructure to provide the best assistance to travelers?
A: Assist Card leverages its global infrastructure to provide the best assistance to travelers through two approaches. On one hand, we reach customers through our natural channels, such as travel agencies and offices in Latin America, from Mexico to Buenos Aires. We have offices in all countries, including major cities, to be close to our customers. Through our different business verticals, we offer products for traditional travelers, corporate travelers, students and others. This structure allows us to cover and be close to our main distribution channels, which are travel agents.
On the other hand, we have offices around the world, in Madrid, Korea, China and Miami, to capitalize on proximity and local knowledge. For example, in China, we know the language and provide translation if needed. Our structure allows us to provide this added value of knowing the location of our suppliers and service providers in each country.
Q: How has digitization transformed the travel and assistance business?
A: The travel and assistance industry has undergone significant changes with the increase in digitization. Customers can now easily book flights, hotels, rental cars, travel insurance and assistance cards from the comfort of their homes. Despite the growth of digital tools, traditional travel agencies have made a resurgence, especially during the pandemic when passengers found themselves stranded abroad. Travel agencies worked around the clock to help repatriate these passengers and provide advice from consulates and embassies.
Assist Card is a digitally-focused company. Our app has over 1 million downloads and 70,000-80,000 daily users. The application provides telemedicine services to clients for minor assistance and uses geolocation to track clients and inform them of nearby clinics for appointments. Clients can communicate with us in multiple ways, including video call for medical consultation, a mobile app, WhatsApp or through our website, giving clients multiple options to stay connected with Assist Card.
Q: What are the challenges of penetrating a market like Mexico?
A: Often, people believe Mexicans do not buy insurance or assistance products. However, this happens due to a lack of information. Assist Card has seen yearly growth. We have several communication channels, and we try to inform customers through our campaigns with Fox Sports and ESPN in Latin America because we believe that health and protection are closely tied to sports.
However, there is still misinformation regarding insurance and assistance. People believe they are covered by credit cards but that is not always the case. The requirements to receive assistance through a credit card are strict. When you communicate effectively, customers understand the importance of purchasing insurance and assistance services. It makes their trips safer and provides peace of mind, even during unforeseen events. Insurance should not be seen as an additional expense but rather as an essential part of a complete trip.
Q: How did Assist Card face the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: The pandemic posed a major challenge for Assist Card. During its initial stages, the world was closed so the company faced a difficult time as many airlines grounded a large number of planes. To address these challenges, Assist Card focused on providing support to passengers who had bought their product, extending the validity of coverage and removing the COVID-19 exclusion from their products. We also worked closely with travel agencies and hosted webinars to promote travel and domestic destinations within countries.
During the pandemic, Assist Card received an overwhelming number of calls from travelers and the company was able to quickly provide support. The pandemic also highlighted the importance of personal protection and taking care of oneself when traveling. Despite the challenges, Assist Card was able to transition to a remote working model within 24 hours, allowing us to continue providing solutions to clients while taking care of our associates. The pandemic was a unique moment in the history of tourism and demonstrated the importance of having a digital culture and financial stability.
Q: What are Assist Card’s main strategies and plans for 2023?
A: Assist Card aims to continue its growth in 2023. We are working closely with our business partners, including travel agencies, hotel chains and airlines. The company has offices in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, and plans to expand in Mexico and open new offices in Cancun, as well as other cities in the north of the country.
Assist Card is also focusing on listening to its customers and adapting to their changing needs. As the age of travelers increases, Assist Card aims to provide customized products that cater to this demographic. The company is also exploring new ways of communicating with its customers, including WhatsApp. Finally, as foundational leader in travel assistance in Latin America, Assist Card is committed to staying ahead of the curve and meeting the changing requirements of travelers.
Assist Card, founded in Switzerland in 1972, is a global organization dedicated exclusively to providing comprehensive assistance to travelers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.