How AirAsia went social

Low Lai Chow

At the recent Web in Travel 2012 conference in Singapore, Kathleen Tan, Group Commercial Head of AirAsia revealed some startling digital statistics.

According to Tan, the low-cost airline's weekly EDMs command a conversion rate of "8% to 10% conversion" - and by conversion, Tan wasn't merely referring to click-throughs, but actual online sales.

"It's bookings. We invested in a lot of tools to track [conversion]."

This is due in no small part to AirAsia's gutsy social media efforts. "Believe it or not, social media is our second highest [driver of bookings], even higher than Google."

When Tan first joined AirAsia eight years ago, the airline had less than 50,000 names in its database. The list has since ballooned to nearly 6 million. Tan estimates the customer base today at 150 million ("When I started it was probably 2 million, maybe 3 million"), of which 60%-70% are repeat customers.