Entering into a new phase to be a one-stop center for all, AirAsia is ready to soar beyond an aviation company with Spencer Lee’s appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia BIG.
As a 18-year old company, AirAsia started the journey by making sure everyone can fly. It was a time when flying is a privilege for most Malaysians. And the rest is history.
AirAsia has proved through time and again with their 10th consecutive win of ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Airline’ at Skytrax World Airline Awards. Continuing to spread their wings, AirAsia only becomes better by including more amazing products and offering.
The latest campaign from AirAsia allow members to book accommodation and enjoy zero booking, change or cancellation fee through the website. Other than flights, new features like extensive hotels, packages (flight + hotel), tours and activities and even daily lifestyle deals are available on airasia.com.
“Everyone has lots of apps on their phones, easily eight to ten apps. But what if there is one app that enables you to have everything from travel, lifestyle, food and beverage deals, as well as an upcoming home-delivery service for online purchases?”, questioned Spencer Lee, CEO of AirAsia BIG.
Previously the Commercial Director for AirAsia, Spencer’s zest has grown with the company that pushes boundaries and constantly bringing new things to the table. Now riding with technology and digitalisation, Spencer’s vision is clear. He is on all grounds preparing AirAsia to be a top travel and lifestyle brand.
In your opinion, what is the significance of digitalisation to your organisation?
As technology advances, it has enabled us to really put our dreams to the market. From day one, we always believe that AirAsia is a brand for the people. Low-cost is just a business model, everything else is run on giving the best to our guests. Technology allows us to give a better flying and booking experience to the people. The next phase is how we can leverage technology to serve your day-to-day life beyond flight. We want to make airasia.com for everyone, even if you’re not flying with us, you can log in to our website and just book a deal.
As competition rises, how do you differentiate your brand in providing a great experience?
Our strength lies in having an unrivalled network, a large database and our BIG Points, the universal digital currency that can be used to pay for bookings on airasia.com. From airasia.com perspective, we are happy and humbled that our guests have recognised our platform as a brand to go to for the best fares before bookings. Now, we are keen to add on the ‘non-flight’ components to further expand our reach and open up more avenues for our BIG Members to earn and use their BIG Points.
And ultimately, we want to make our users happy. That would be the real winner. AirAsia would achieve this through hard work, understanding the market and using the right tech solution for the business.
What is the biggest challenge in your journey?
Time. The speed for go-to-market is key and we need to constantly learn and improve. Also, it is important to have the right people and the right culture in the company. We need to train our people well, but most importantly, we also need to treat them well. Therefore, we are quite happy to have good people that stayed with us for all these years.
We noticed your interesting tweet recently mentioning about Humanising Technology, can you elaborate more?
We started the journey of online booking 18 years ago. This headstart has given us all the data and infrastructure in place. Now, it is about how we use the data to understand our consumers and put the algorithm in place to predict and serve the relevant products to our users. Instead of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, we are able to do precise targeting based on user’s behaviour and interest. Also, technology can be a very misused word. At the end of the day, it is all about how you apply it–or humanised it–for your business. We build what we believe the market needs. From booking experience to the best deals, we use technology to continually improve the entire process.
What would you advise those who are interested in venturing into new startups?
Anyone interested needs to have a really clear mind. On what you are building, creating and know how to be flexible and agile in constantly improving in the journey towards your dream. Also, don’t let praises get into your head. If you believe it too much, you’re gone. Media has made startups sound sexy however, understand that there will be countless failures before it becomes a success. So, don’t go in for the glam, always know what you and your business stand for.
Interview by Jessy Wong