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How AirAsia.com wants to become a travel and lifestyle platform

Air Asia’s digital platforms allow customers to book medical treatments, purchase groceries, and order lunch boxes, among other services.

The COVID-19 crisis has been hard-hitting on the global aviation industry as a result of travel bans and flight cancellations all over the world, creating an unprecedented situation that has forced many sector-related businesses to adapt their strategies. Kuala Lumpur-headquartered airline Air Asia is a good example, as the firm is pivoting its business to become a “travel tech and lifestyle platform.”

The company’s website, AirAsia.com, has been evolving from a flight booking centered service, into a travel and lifestyle resource. According to a presentation by AirAsia.com’s CEO Karen Chan on Tech in Asia’s Product Development Conference 2020, the current crisis further accelerates the firm’s vision to offer a “new way of life in Southeast Asia” with different services, bringing consumers together in one unified platform.

The company’s digital platforms now allow customers to search and buy vacation deals, purchase tickets to tourist attractions, as well as booking medical tourism packages, or even ordering delivery meals, among other services.

AirAsia.com is leveraging on its platform’s existing network, organic traffic, and customer data, to make the shift. The website has 14 million active users, while the Air Asia app has been downloaded over 14 million times as well. Over 60% of Air Asia seats are sold directly from its own platforms, Chan detailed during the presentation.

“Air Asia is the largest low carrier in Southeast Asia. Our penetration is not just to the metro cities, but also into the second, third, and fourth-tier cities in all different markets. Whilst Malaysia is our hometown, we already have hubs and fleets in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, India, and more,” Chan said during the presentation.

The company leverages data obtained from different sources such as payment habits and loyalty points usage on its website or mobile app, as well as from on-ground activities at the airport and in-flight using the firm’s wifi network. With this data, AirAsia.com can predict consumers’ purchase intent and expand its services accordingly, Chan added.

“By utilizing that data, AirAsia.com is focusing to be a one-stop-shop to satisfy all consumer needs. What’s really interesting is that if you look at other super apps in Southeast Asia, they are all anchored around ground mobility. Meanwhile, AirAsia.com is anchored around cross-border mobility.” Chan continued.

Screenshot from Karen Chan’s presentation on Tech in Asia Conference 2020.

Purchasing groceries from AirAsia website

The platform has now four different verticals. Travel as the main anchor, complemented by lifestyle and experience, e-commerce and logistics, and media solutions.

Under the travel section, Air Asia recently launched a travel deal called “Unlimited Pass,” letting customers in Malaysia and Thailand purchase tickets now and redeem them anytime until March 2021. By signing up for this program, travelers can plan their trips despite the uncertainty that is caused by the pandemic.

The firm is also capitalizing on the medical tourism sector by partnering with 12 different premium hospitals in Malaysia. Customers looking for premium medical care can book their treatments as well as flights and hotel within the platform under the lifestyle and experience section.

Moving on to e-commerce, the firm is also attracting more traffic for daily lifestyle services through “Our Shop,” the e-commerce platform powered by the airline’s logistics arm Teleport, which has been introducing new services in the past few months.

The latest solution, “Our Food,” a service for Air Asia’s food and beverage (F&B) partners, allows companies to take orders on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to then deliver food boxes to customers’ doorstep. Customers can pre-order the food through a customized menu link where they can also pay and track their order status in real-time.

The company also launched the Our Farm program in June, a new business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform to enable farmers to connect directly to retailers. The service allows farmers to boost their income by eliminating middlemen costs, while also providing logistical support to fulfill orders directly to businesses, says Air Asia.

“We work closely with farmers whose supply chain is disrupted due to the pandemic. We do that by pivoting our logistics service Teleport from cross-border cargo into home delivery,” said Chan. 

AirAsia.com also introduced “Our Fresh,” earlier this month, offering fresh and local produce as well as essential groceries, with next-day delivery guaranteed for Klang Valley customers. “Over the past few months during the lockdown, we’ve been able to go and pivot our travel luxury retail sites into basically selling carrot, zucchini, and apples. We have on-boarded around 3000 merchants selling local, and therefore supporting local communities to embrace online retail,” said Chan.

Two weeks after the Malaysian government declared a lockdown in March, AirAsia.com launched a campaign called “safe on shops,” inviting offline retailers to sell their products online at zero cost. The company also supports merchants with photography and design services to help marketing merchant’s products.

“We started expanding content marketing and PR solutions to support all vendors on our platform as an added service,” Chan explained. The firm has different channels for its marketing and media solutions including e-magazine Our Daily, Air Asia ads, and Our Chat service, among others. 

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Contactless services

As contactless became a popular term since the coronavirus outbreak and part of the “new normal” habits, Air Asia also introduced new safe flight standards including contactless payment options and enhanced features on its mobile app.

“We have already implemented end-to-end contactless procedures, including using facial recognition system to check-in at contactless kiosks at the airport,” Chan said. AirAsia has also digitized the boarding process by scanning all boarding passes at the boarding gate instead of collecting stubs of physical ones.

The firm believes that demand for flights will bounce back soon, as some countries are starting to reopen their borders. “According to our internal survey, 86% of respondents said that they really miss traveling and half of them plan to travel as soon as it is safe,” Chan detailed.

However, the aviation and tourism industry might need some time to recover from the crisis, while the company will focus on enhancing its new services to serve a new set of customers while supporting local SMEs, Chan added.

KrASIA is a media partner for Tech in Asia Product Development Conference 2020-Virtual that was held on July 1-2 (Indonesia series), and July 8-9 (regional series).