29 March 2017 – Team Aviato, a group of five NUS and NTU alumni, won the Airvolution hackathon organized by budget carrier AirAsia.

Held from 18 to 19 March at AirAsia’s corporate base RedQuarters near Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, Airvolution was aimed at spearheading innovation in the ASEAN region in order to realise AirAsia’s vision to become a fully-fledged digital airline. Twenty teams from 13 countries, including ASEAN countries, Australia and the United States, competed in this 18-hour event where they were tasked to improve AirAsia customers’ experience based on their digital footprints.

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Comprising NUS Information Systems graduate Choo Yan Sheng, Computer Science graduate John Goh Choo Ern and three other members, Team Aviato developed a social media listening engine service called Aviato that is integrated with the AirAsia app and generates customised profiles of AirAsia customers based on their past and present online activities. Speaking on behalf of the team, Yan Sheng said, “The current problem that AirAsia faces is that they rely on past transaction-based data stored in their website and app to understand their customers, such as their travel history, how they navigate the website and app, etc.” He added that this is not ideal as it does not allow AirAsia to launch personalised promotions and campaigns, which are more effective. By ‘listening’ to customers’ social media activities such as their ‘likes’ on social media etc., Aviato is able to generate a social profile of each individual, with his or her likes, dislikes and preferences. With these individualised profiles, AirAsia will be able to customise promotions, bundles and campaigns to suit individuals’ needs rather than sending promotions en masse to them.

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Citing the example of a customer who is adventurous and likes to engage in activities like mountain-climbing and hiking, Yan Sheng said, “AirAsia will push a mobile app notification with a message such as ‘Enjoy a 20% discount to Kota Kinabalu! We noticed you have an adventurous streak in you! Go explore the wilderness with your friends this holiday.’ When the customer taps on the notification, he will be redirected to the AirAsia mobile app, where the flight booking process will have been customised based on his likes and needs.” He added that because some fields in the flight booking process will be completed, the customer will just need to confirm his departure and return dates and make payment. With that, the customer will be able to secure his flight tickets with just a few clicks rather than going through the whole booking process.

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Yan Sheng believed the team triumphed because their presentation clearly described their platform’s benefits. “We illustrated the value of our product, which was ‘capturing the user’s emotion at the moment when he or she ‘likes’ a photo on Instagram’. We were also able to demonstrate a ‘live’ functional prototype to the judges,” he said.

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For their win, Team Aviato was awarded the grand prize of RM25,000 in cash, 100,000 AirAsia BIG Points and five return flights to any AirAsia destination. The team also received invitations to present their product to AirAsia and Google Singapore's senior management.