BANGKOK – Thailand’s 7-Eleven convenience stores have turned into physical sales outlets for Thai AirAsia (TAA) in a partnership that breaks new ground in air ticket distribution.
All 7,800 7-Eleven outlets and 1,500 Counter Service Co (CS) bill payment sites nationwide yesterday began to accept bookings and payments for all AirAsia flights originating from Thailand both for domestic and international routes.
The deal with CS has given TAA a nationwide physical coverage of the market and leverage on ticket sales in a channel not exploited by any other airlines.
It supplements TAA’s existing sales channels which encompass the airline’s online booking system, call centres, travel agents and a handful of sales offices located at strategic points.
While some 75% of its tickets are sold online, TAA hopes that 7-Eleven and CS sites will provide an easy access for its air tickets, especially among people who frequent convenience stores.
Weeradej Ackapolpanich, assistant vice-president of CS, said 30 million people visit 7-Eleven stores each month, spending 10 billion baht.
The coverage is rising as CP All, part of the gigantic Charoen Pokphand Group and operator of the 7-Eleven franchise, is adding 600 new stores and 250 more CS locations every year, say CS executives.
Santisuk Klongchaiya, TAA’s commercial director, yesterday said it is too early to determine the contribution of 7-Eleven and CS to the airline’s overall sales, pending market feedback.
However, he conservatively estimated initial contribution at 3-5%, though Mr Weeradej was optimistic of a double-digit percentage.
“We need six months to see the real result,’’ the CS executive said.
According to TAA’s financial report, the airline’s 2013 revenue was 23.5 billion baht.
The TAA-CS partnership means TAA tickets can be physically purchased at any hour of the day or night, every day of the year.
Ticket bookings can be made as little as 24 hours prior to the flights for all of Air-Asia domestic and international routes.