We sat down with Lawrence Chai, Head of Distributions and Commercial Channels at Malaysia Airlines, for 7 questions in 7 minutes.
Malaysia Airlines has been awarded a 5-star rating, as well as the title of ‘leading airline in Asia’ multiple times. It is no wonder then that they are selling over 320,000 tickets online every month, to destinations throughout Asia, Europe and Oceania. That’s a lot of holidays! We spoke to Lawrence about the part he plays in filling all of those seats!
Q Starting with the basics, what initially attracted you to Malaysia Airlines?
A Free tickets for travel!
Q That’s awesome! Do you actually get free tickets?
A Yes I do – I get free tickets as staff, and we get discounted tickets too.
Q Wow, that’s a great perk! Your current role is VP of distribution and commercial systems. What is the best part of this job for you, and what does this role look like day-to-day?
A Working on the internet and with e-commerce. It really is my passion and it’s what I get to do every day.
My primary goal is to help the airline shift their traditional sales channels, from travel agents, to direct channels via mobile, the internet and call centres.
Instead of relying on just travel agents, the airlines need to build direct relationships with the passenger.
Q Well email remarketing is a great way of engaging with passengers in a personalised way. What was it that motivated you to go down this route?
A Abandonment rates with our booking engine.
Q So you were aware of the abandonment rate on your site?
A Yep, definitely. We track the data so the board of directors are fully aware how much abandonment we have at each stage. The COO has actually asked “Lawrence, what can you make better? I know the credit card company has rejected x percentage of transactions but what can we do about it?”
So we thought of a few things; we could run more promotions, get more people to come to the website, or make our website even friendlier, but at the end of the day we still see the same trends on abandonment rates at the end of the month.
Q The amount of people you are getting to the site doesn’t have an effect on abandonment rate.
A Exactly, we see the same abandonment rate.
Sending email is not a part time job – this is a full-time job.
To think through what content to put in, which graphics to put in, at what time to send and how we can target better… You’ve got to think about it day-in and day-out.
Lawrence Chai, Malaysia Airlines
Q So this issue led you to implementing an email remarketing solution with us. Have you been surprised by the results that you’ve seen?
A We didn’t actually set any targets on what we wanted; as long as it’s positive, right? We understand that today we have a 5.8% recovery rate which is good, and now we want to see how we can double that.
Q I like that – start big, aim bigger! What aspect of the process do you think has contributed most to this success?
A I think it is the thoughts and the analysis that the SaleCycle team has put into it. That’s the talent; these are the experiences that airlines don’t have. Sending email is not a part time job – it is a full-time job.
To think through what content to put in, which graphics to put in, at what time to send and how we can target better… it’s a full-time job. You’ve got to think about it day-in and day-out.
Q So really it’s the support you’ve received from the team doing the optimizations.
A Exactly it’s the team, they’ve done a good job on that.
Q That’s really good to hear, I’ll be sure to pass it on! And finally, where is your favourite holiday destination that Malaysia Airlines fly to?
Well my personal preference is Paris. But for my wife its places where she can do more shopping – Tokyo for instance. For me though, it’s Paris.
Good choice, I love Paris too! Thanks for your time Lawrence.