• AirAsia guests able to seamlessly book activities through Touristly
• Digitalisation and collaboration will drive further growth for AirAsia
(Third from left) Regional managing editor of travel 3Sixty° magazine R. Rajendra; chief strategy officer of Touristly Ikhlas Kamarudin; founder and CEO of Touristly and CEO of travel3Sixty.com Aaron Sarma; executive chairman of AirAsia Bhd, group CEO of AirAsia X and publisher of travel 3Sixty° magazine Kamarudin Meranun.
AIRASIA’s in-flight magazine travel 3Sixtyo launched its new look on 6 Oct in conjunction with its 10th anniversary. To complement the print magazine’s revamp, which includes a new logo, layout, content and branding, the magazine also unveiled its revitalised digital magazine travel3sixty.com.
Previously operated inhouse, travel3sixty.com is now run by travel planning startup Touristly Travel Sdn Bhd through a deal in April that saw AirAsia Bhd acquiring a 50% stake in the startup for US$2.6 million (RM11.5 million) via AirAsia Investments Ltd and extending a US$1.1 million (RM5 million) convertible loan to it for working capital and development.
The digital magazine’s mobile-first approach also incorporates a transactional feature so that AirAsia guests have seamless access to Touristly’s on-ground activities and deals.
Touristly founder and CEO Aaron Sarma, says that while the print version reaches more than three million readers monthly on AirAsia flights, travel3sixty.com will soon be made available to all AirAsia guests on board by loading it to the inflight server so they can access the content without having to pay for wifi access. Passengers will be able to read current and archived articles relevant to their travel destination as well as book activities immediately.
Looking at the bigger picture, the launch of the digital magazine is just one tool Touristly has built in collaboration with AirAsia to take advantage of the airline’s 70 million guests a year. As Sarma shares, “over the last few months we have also rolled out our services on AirAsia.com on the search box’s Activities tab, on the Booking Confirmation page, traveller retargeting and many more. These suite of products forms the foundation of a potential B2B business that we can roll out to other travel related companies as well,” he enthuses.
Back to the digital magazine, in the works is an app that will enable even faster interaction and feature videos of travel destinations and activities, which travel3sixty.com readers will be able to immediately book.
“We’ve launched the digital magazine because it reaches a wider audience. A lot more people are able to access our magazine and there are a lot more offerings with it being interactive. This is our primary objective – to get closer to our guests,” said AirAsia Bhd executive chairman, AirAis X CEO and publisher of the magazine Kamarudin Meranun.
In addition to the activities search box available on AirAsia’s website, Sarma reveals that Touristly is also working on a widget that will prompt guests with activity suggestions based on their booking information as they go through the flight booking process.
As it is, guest’s booking data is already being used to push emails to them with activity suggestions specifically tailored to the type of traveller and how many people are travelling.
According to Sarma, Touristly touchpoints get millions of clicks on their activity suggestions and search box on the AirAsia site every month, which translate to a 6% conversion rate across the board, including through its email suggestions. This is a significant conversion rate considering that e-commerce sites in general usually see a 2% conversion rate, he points out.
“The more touch points we have with AirAsia, the more the conversion rate will go up. Part of the reason for this is that the guest is primed to transact because they are booking or have booked their flight and are already thinking about what to do at their destination,” he explains.
Touristly’s collaboration with AirAsia is empowering for both parties with the startup opening more opportunities for monetisation for the airline while leveraging on AirAsia’s regional reach to scale quickly.
“We don’t have to think about acquiring customers because we have a captive audience of more than 70 million. Instead we can focus our time on building a really great product for our customers,” says Sarma.
Kamarudin feels that the investment in Touristly has been well worth it not just because of the greater monetisation opportunity but also because of the injection of new people and ideas. “We can easily acquire technology but acquiring people is not so easy. I believe they will be able to deliver on their ideas, which is the very reason we’re putting money behind them.”
“The new face of AirAsia is all about digitization,” he adds, referring to AirAsia’s just announced digital arm, Red Ventures. And while AirAsia’s core business is seeing progressive growth, ancillary businesses such as Touristly that are part of AirAsia’s digitisation push will help move the business even further forward and open up a wider world.