Google is the next enemy for airlines according to the boss of AirAsia.
Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group, says airlines will spend a lot of money promoting themselves on Google, and Facebook.
Fernandes, who was speaking at a CAPA Live virtual event this week, says: “We’re all going to kill each other outbidding each other so I have been looking at alternative channels to promote ourselves and content is one of them.”
He’s not the first to highlight the threat Google poses to airline distribution with Bobby Healy, CEO and founder of drone delivery service Manna, and previously technology chief at CarTrawler, often vocal about the search giant in the past.
Fernandes went on to talk about some of the new businesses Air Asia has been developing using its airlines assets as well as the brand including logistics, a blockchain for freight, a small record label, food delivery and a number of restaurants.
“It’s really important to have content and we’re developing a lot of content around the platform. It’s all about not spending money on Google and Facebook.”
Earlier in the discussion, asked about the effectiveness and evolution of the initiatives, Fernandes shared some of the back story and talked about being a data company.
“We were the first to sell using the internet in South-east Asia and I jealously guarded that because I want a direct relationship with the customer. 19 years on, 90% is still direct channels.”
He adds that initiatives have grown from the AirAsia.com platform which, he says, attracts tens of millions every day, to buy tickets.
After looking at the airline side, Fernandes say she looked at the huge database and mileage program before deciding to “do some ecommerce.”
“We’ve done food, food delivery and travel retail and the last bit is we can build a bank. We’ve really extracted the power of the airline like no one has ever seen and that power is customers and a brand.”