Selling with heart and Seoul


With the Korean economy losing momentum, Finnair’s Seoul-based Global Sales Agent, KS Kim, is doubling her dedication to reaching out and offering cargo customers a key competitive differentiator: agile service.

A steady stream of fabric shipments departs from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport in the belly of Finnair aircraft, bound for fashion houses and factories in London, Paris, and Milan. South Korean fabrics are in high demand, and Finnair’s flexible schedule offers convenient next-day connections for this typically urgent cargo.

While fabric exports are booming, recent statistics paint a bleaker picture for the Korean economy in 2016. January saw the largest contraction in exports recorded since the start of the financial crisis.

“Total export volumes have declined significantly due to low oil prices and low demand from overseas. The problem is being exacerbated by China’s economic instability and the US rate hike. Imports, mainly in energy resources, have also declined,” says Ks Kim.

Nothing beats a full belly 

Kim’s daily routine is like a barometer of the Korean economy. When times are good, she has time to organize functions and lunch with colleagues. When times are tougher – as they are this season – she is out there selling nonstop, meeting with cargo customers and working double-time to come up with strategies to increase the load factor.

But, regardless of the market situation, every hour of Kim’s work day is passionately devoted to achieving one thing: a full aircraft belly.

“The challenge of filling up cargo shipments on the plane is the most interesting aspect of my job. The task that keeps me busiest is meeting people and finding creative solutions to increase kilograms,” she says.

All in the attitude

With 25 years’ experience in the industry – the past five dedicated exclusively to Finnair sales and marketing – Kim is a sales veteran who understands the psychology of cargo sales.

“Attitude is very important, because this will always be a people business. A good sales training is also important because this job not only requires a certain way of working, but also a certain lifestyle.”

On the currently tough competitive landscape, Kim sees faster service and fewer offloads as the key to winning customer loyalty. 

“Safety and security are of course top priorities, too. I see Finnair as remaining the number one Nordic airline operating in Korea, but we have to constantly work to offer faster connections to satisfy customers.”

Ks Kim

Finnair GSA, Seoul, South Korea

For KS Kim, one of the main perks of working for Finnair is the opportunity to travel via Helsinki. Her other favorite spots in Europe include Barcelona’s whimsical Park Güell designed by Gaudi.

Kim often goes to yoga classes to relieve the stress of her work.

“Meditation and yoga are a very important part of my life. They make me feel comfortable and calm my mind,” she says.

Her top recommended must-see in Seoul is Changgyeonggung Palace near the presidential office in the Samcheong-dong area, a unique hilly neighborhood packed with trendy shops, cafés, and galleries.

“If you visit this area, try the succulent beef ribs at Buk-Magkol, a traditional Korean restaurant.”
Text by Silja Kudel
Main photo by iStock

Published March 16, 2016

Category: Local features, Market updates