These days there is an app for everything. Communication, travel, networking, education, e-commerce, news, finance and so much more. I’m waiting for the app that makes a cappuccino on your smartphone. But hey, maybe it’s out there and I’ve missed it.
One airline, Southeast Asia’s AirAsia, is certainly having a go at designing ‘the app to end all apps’ with their imperiously named Superapp.
Being reluctant to load unnecessary apps on my phone for several reasons, not the least being security, I relented and loaded the Superapp partly because I was finding the web browser interface somewhat frustrating. “Sometimes we have issues with the website,” I was advised by an airline staffer. And yes, the Superapp responds faster and completes bookings more efficiently than the sometimes ‘laggy’ website. Mostly.
Notoriously cynical frequent flyers are quick to point out any shortcomings in their airline’s offerings. In a magnanimous gesture, AirAsia has also included competitors’ flights and fares in the Superapp inventory.
With my cynic’s hat on, I could suggest this gesture is simply to remind flyers that AirAsia’s fares and coverage surpasses that of its rivals – which it does in almost every instance. Nevertheless, expect to see fares from airlines such as Batik, scoot, Jetstar, Lion Air, Garuda, Singapore Airlines and Citilink listed in your search results.
As an ever-evolving e-organism, AirAsia Superapp also includes the ability to book hotels, ridesharing, dining, insurance, buses, ferries and trains as well as packages inclusive of airfares and hotels under a feature called Snap. This reflects the growth of the company from simply an airline to “an investment holding company (CapitalA) with a portfolio of synergistic travel and lifestyle businesses that leverage data and technology”.
The ebullient promotional literature trumpets the AirAsia Superapp as ‘the one-stop travel platform’ business of Capital A, offering consumers over 15 lines of products and services via the Superapp as well as the website.
“Powered by data and technology, the AirAsia Superapp leverages its digital ecosystem of 51 million users and 40 million downloads to generate a personalised and seamless users experience. Users can also engage in real-time conversations, join like-minded communities, play games and much more. From travel needs to everyday lifestyle essentials, there is always something for everyone on the AirAsia Superapp.”
You can also keep track of your reward points, but frankly, these don’t count for much. I’ve flown a dozen or more sectors, including international and medium-haul and have earned about enough for a can of beer, so don’t count on free flights any time soon.
Still, beyond their own corporate interests, AirAsia is partnering with other major players in the travel and accommodation sphere, specifically a direct partnership recently announced with Archipelago International, the largest hotel management group in Southeast Asia, effectively adding more than 40,000 rooms and residences in more than 200 locations across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Oceania.
Many of Archipelago’s brands are unfamiliar to Australian and NZ travellers. Names such as Aston, The Alana, Kamuela, Harper, Quest (not to be confused with the Australian brand of the same name), Neo and Fave all enjoy prominence throughout Archipelago’s territories.
“With the wide connectivity of AirAsia airlines and the robust ecosystem that we have, this partnership has reemphasised the strength of AirAsia Super App for hotel partners to optimise our database of up to 51 million passengers and daily active users who are looking for travel deals of up to 1.25 million,” said Head of Emerging Markets AirAsia Super App, Lim Ben-Jie, at the time of the announcement.
“In addition, the AirAsia Super App has also been connected with more than 700 global airlines. This allows AirAsia Super App to present more cross-sell marketing opportunities and increase visibility for each hotel partner in reaching the right target market.”
So now you’re starting to see the big picture.
After test driving the Superapp for several months now, I can say while it is not without the occasional hiccup, it is developing as an invaluable tool for both business and leisure travellers in the SE Asian territories and can predict it will become more pervasive as features and partners are added.