Okay, so it’s not perfect but in re-launching its new iPhone app (read our review here) last week, AirAsia had to balance the trade-off between speed to market and getting everything into place before launch.
And in today’s world, speed to market is critical, says Arun Verma, head of technology and innovation at AirAsia. It’s been two months since the old app was removed (for reasons he will not go into) and Arun’s team has been working overtime to relaunch as soon as possible.
“We had an interruption and our goal was to provide as quick as possible a way for people to book on mobile. Now we are committed to providing the best booking experience for our customers. We were the first to launch a mobile app and now we are the first to focus on design and user experience.”
Said Arun of the new app, “It’s a simple design, focused on things that we can provide our customers that are what they need. For example, the travel guides – we now have Malaysia only – but it will eventually have our entire Travel3sixty content so that when a traveller lands, there is no need to buy a travel guide anymore, it’s on their mobile.” (Travel 3Sixty is AirAsia's inflight magazine and it is where the airline is building up its content to inspire and inform travellers.)
Other than the essential features of making it possible for people to book, check in and buy ancillaries, content will be a big part of AirAsia’s new mobile play. “We’ve sent photographers to Myanmar and Japan, everywhere we fly to, to get content and we can tell you the best nooks and crannies of everywhere you fly with us.”
The booking has been simplified. “It’s the simplest booking we’ve ever had – seven steps in all. We have reduced as much information required from the customer as possible. We are not using multiple screens, just quick drop down menus.”
And the fares are all-in. Ancillaries are all available – hot seats, inflight entertainment, comfort kits, and for check-in, it’s introduced a new bar code.
Features that will be added by first quarter next year will be management of booking, log in, Apple Passbook and it will also expand payment channels to look at Paypal and telco companies.
He is aware of the comments fans have been posting on its Facebook page, some complaining about the absence of log in and inability to manage booking. “We like it that our fans are so engaged. In the first four days, we had 60,000 downloads. We take everything they say as a road map to improvement.
“Generally, there’s a lot of positive feedback on how things look – one said, it’s like having Travel 3Sixty in my pocket. It’s good that people want more features and we are absolutely committed to delivering more stuff for the future.”
His goal is to reach “millions across all platforms”. To date, he said, it’s seeing good conversion and the Android app is now available on Google Play, followed by Blackberry, the company he joined in Canada and then moved to Singapore to manage the Blackberry platform for Asia Pacific.
Note: Arun Verma will be joining the WIT speakers' list where he will share views on innovation and mobile at the WIT Conference.