Superapp to ‘travel superapp’: AirAsia is upping the ante
- CEO Amanda Woo shares with Tech Wire Asia how Capital A were toying with turning its superapp into a lifestyle platform — and how they are now on the pathway to becoming a travel one instead
- AirAsia ride drivers will soon be able to know flight details to plan journeys ahead, with similar dynamic pricing applied to flights so users will soon be paying less for prebooked e-hailing
For airlines around the world, the pandemic brought their services to a grinding halt for almost 24 months — during which their businesses were stalled, with little to no progress. One of the few exceptions was Capital A Bhd, which owns Malaysian budget airline AirAsia. The company instead decided to ramp up its digitization efforts that had been ongoing for years prior. Capital A, led by Malaysia business tycoon Tony Fernandes, decided to bring together all company data together and build a superapp, with dozens of travel, lifestyle products and services embedded within it.
Fast forward two years later, AirAsia today considers itself not a lifestyle app but instead a travel superapp — with over 51 million users that is projected to double in four years. “We have been building over the last 24 months, and now we are seeing what is coming out of our efforts. Now, our focus is how do we make money out of it?” AirAsia superapp CEO Amanda Woo said in a recent interview with Tech Wire Asia.
Woo shared how Capital A were “toying with its superapp during the pandemic to evolve it into a lifestyle one — depending on the elements.” Now, she reckons the path forward is “super clear”.
“The way forward is to win in the travel superapp arena,” she says. How is she planning to chart the path and make AirAsia known as a travel superapp? Here’s the AA superapp gameplan.
How are you planning to transform the superapp from what it was before, to a dominant player within the digital travel arena?
For starters, we have a very relevant database within the region. So how are we going to win in this arena is from hotels. I can cross-sell to any flight passengers considering the real-time data that we have. For context, I have all your behaviors — I know exactly when you fly and all other relevant information, so with that we will be able to cross-sell hotels better, for instance. So in the next three to four months or more, it is about us going out and gaining market share.
It’s exactly what we are doing right, generating demand and winning over the market share. Secondly, why travel, and why are we so clear about that right now? Because we are in the midst of building something no other ride hailing brand can do — the ability for our drivers to know your flight details, if it is going to be delayed or early. This will in turn benefit our drivers and make them more efficient, instead of queuing hours at the airport.
So for consumers, the journey from the start until the end can be powered entirely by AirAsia?
Yes, as a consumer, the journey will be a seamless one. They can book a flight, hotel and even ride, prior to their travel date. With the airline’s philosophy, when it comes to AirAsia rides, if you book earlier, the pricing is lower and better. Basically, we are applying this dynamic pricing in whatever we do — a know-how passed on from our airlines. It is the right fit, to make it more convenient for our users, while improving our drivers efficiency.
What about AirAsia food, how will it evolve?
Food is going to be very exciting for us as well and we are planning on changing the game by riding on the content that we own today which is based on our travel content inventory. Basically the idea is we will have our food focused on the touristy area, for example Bangkok, where most people travel to because they enjoy the food. A lot of these street foods are unknown in the online world unless you are there to see it for yourselves. Now, we want to provide a platform for it.
For example, if you are staying in a hotel in Bangkok, our superapp will ensure that you have food suggestions best fit for you. Essentially it’s like suggesting the “top 10 street food must haves” based on the area you are staying. While we are still exploring how we plan to play this out, by delivery or even self-pickup. The idea is basically to not have the need to use another app, making sure the content on our AirAsia superapp is relevant to you.
Read more on AirAsia’s conversation with superapp CEO Amanda Woo, and the company’s plans for an AirAsia virtual currency.
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