According to news reports, Kathleen Tan, who earlier this year took over as CEO of the Joint Venture (JV) company between AirAsia and Expedia, AirAsia Expedia Travel Pte Ltd., (AAE), succeeding Dan Lynn, said that her priority is to make Expedia the “preferred OTA (Online Travel Agency)” in India and “strengthen” the brand by improving its content. On her maiden visit to India after taking over as CEO of the company, Tan hoped that her experience in the travel industry would help her achieve the goals set for her new role. With regard to improving the content of Expedia, she said that the JV company is keen to sign up more hotels in India as well as domestic and international airlines to offer more choices to customers. “We are happy to sell IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, etc., because on the online space, choice in terms of inventory and content is more important,” Tan explained.
“My priority is to build the brand, and make sure that as many people as possible know about the Expedia brand and what we are. I want to be the brand ambassador and build the team here to take the growth forward. The business is obviously growing for the JV company, but we want to take that growth story forward more aggressively,” said Tan while talking about her priorities in the Indian market.
She said that India is an important market for the JV because of its growing, young, travel-aspiring middle-class population. Therefore, the company has in recent months invested a lot in infrastructure in terms of human resource to improve their engagement in the India market. “We have recently hired 200 young Indian engineers for our headquarters here in India. That shows our commitment to this market,” Tan said.
Commenting on the AirAsia-Tata Sons Ltd airline JV, Tan said that the venture would “excite” India. “It is good for India as a country, as AirAsia is a big low-cost brand and has been operating to India since a decade. The scale that AirAsia with their eight airlines can bring into India is beyond comparison,” she added. While an additional airline would obviously make the industry more competitive, she said that customers would be the ultimate beneficiary of that competition. “An additional airline would also create business for the industry as there will be one more airline to sell,” she informed. Tan, who was instrumental in building the AirAsia brand in tough markets like China, said that the new airline would be able to leverage the distribution network of Expedia in overseas markets.
Vikram Malhi, Country Head, Expedia India, said that AAE had registered triple-digit growth in the last two years by combining the strength of two partners. “AirAsia has the pricing no other airline has, and Expedia has the online content no other online player offers. We have successfully combined these two strengths,” he said. He said that the JV has increased the domestic hotel content phenomenally in the last two years and is currently not far behind their immediate competition.