Future Tech

Move CEO wants travel brand recognition in post-AirAsia era

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 01 Dec 2023, 11:59 AM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

 After ditching the airasia Superapp name and rebranding as Move in September, Capital A Bhd’s digital arm wants to become an established and widely recognised online travel agency in Southeast Asia. 

Move already has 15.4 million active monthly users in the region, and a share of about 10% of its estimated US$30 billion travel market, chief executive officer Nadia Omer said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

The company, based in Kuala Lumpur, sells flights, hotels, travel insurance, and financial technology products, and offers ride-hailing services specialising in airport journeys.

“The real inflection point in e-commerce, which I see happening in the next two to three years, is in travel,” Nadia said in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, the same day Capital A reported that Move posted revenue of RM171.4 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2023, up 68% year-on-year. 

Below are edited excerpts from the interview with Omer, who became the CEO in October:

Omer: I’m originally from Pakistan, and I come from a very traditional background. My ambition in life was to get married, have kids and have a settled family life. I got married during my studies, and had my first child before my first job. But I felt I had no identity of my own, and my family encouraged me to explore a career. My first job was at Procter & Gamble, where as a young mother, I moved into baby-care products. 

Later, Nestlé hired me, and I helped build their juices portfolio, and then I became the head of Nescafe and breakfast cereals in Pakistan. My husband later moved to Thailand, and I found a regional role with PepsiCo.

Then I realised that FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) had reached a mature stage, and wasn’t growing 15% to 20% annually any more. I started applying for e-commerce companies, and joined CARS24, before the amazing opportunity with Move came up. 

The Move branding, is it deliberate to set you apart from AirAsia?

It is. This is a separate entity. To be an online travel agency, you need to fulfil the different needs of customers - not all of those can be met by AirAsia. People are travelling to other countries, and they have to take other carriers. We connect them in ways so they can find those options. I want to make sure they find the right hotels with us. 

You have premium travellers, mainstream travellers and affordable travellers. We are somewhere between mainstream and affordable. I want to serve the needs of these people better than anybody else. 

How many components does Move have?

We have different verticals. First is flights - we have other airlines as well. We will introduce and scale up travel insurance, like, for the price of a cup of coffee. We are also developing buy now, pay later programmes with our partners.  

What are your goals for 2024? 

The first home run we need to score is that when we ask people what Move does, they don’t say it’s just for flights. It is for flights plus hotels. The government has announced visa-free entry for China, India, Türkiye and Jordan. We have China and India, two big diasporas that both love coming into this region. Next year, we will start focusing on building the app business there. 

Do you have any ambitions for the company to list?

Ultimately, the goal is to go public once we have built the business. For now, if you are preparing a young player, it is better that they are a little off the radar to be able to practise, try new things, make a few mistakes, and course-correct, before they show up at the big match.  

  - Bloomberg


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