Brand essence of Malaysia Airlines – experiencing Malaysian Hospitality
Over the past couple of months, I’ve spent a lot of time in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and that resulted in an overdose of branding messages from regional airlines like Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Tiger Airways.
I was intrigued in particular by Malaysia Airlines’ “Malaysian Hospitality” campaign – which is a play on the MH code of the airline. Soon enough, I got to experience the “world’s best in-flight service” myself, on Business Class from Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles (see photos at the bottom of this article). And here’s what I feel is the essence of Malaysian Hospitality – it’s the “human-ness” of flying. Let me explain what I mean.
Malaysian Hospitality – a story of genuine care
It may sound strange, but a lot of airlines that have good service often lack “humanity” in their service. Sometimes, it even becomes robotic – I’m sure you’ve seen robotic smiles plastered on flight attendants. Malaysia Airlines’ service, in contrast, was genuine and very human – one that makes you feel good as a person. Let me share a story.
I opted to have my meal soon after take-off, while the gentleman next to me chose to have it later. I first received some traditional satay (a Malaysian specialty), and then more aromatic dishes. This obviously tempted the person seated next to me and he kept stealing glances at my food. Without him asking for anything, the leading stewardess asked him if he’d like some starters or dessert – he opted for the latter and happily munched on the tiramisu.
Not only was the service genuine, it was pro-active. I’m not saying no other airlines provide such service, just that it’s a rare feat. Moreover, we were all greeted by names, and complete eye-contact was made before we were spoken to – all the basics of providing a personal service.
The omnipresent Malaysian essence – on-board, and in the lounge
Not only was the food very Malaysian – like the satay and the teh tarik (pulled-tea), the products and service were too. The crew pointed not with their fingers, but with their thumb above their fist- a very Malaysian gesture. In the Business Class lounge, there were a variety of local foods available, and local massages too. So even if you’re in-transit, and not getting out of the airport, you can experience glimpses of Malaysian life.
Moreover, I was impressed with the lounge because not only did it have a dedicated Business Center and phone booths for private calls, but also a golf putting area and a children’s playground. I’m not sure how many children frequent the playground, but the other services were certainly desirable.
Room for improvement?
For one, the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft that Malaysia Airlines uses for this flight isn’t the newest. In fact, Singapore Airlines has retired all but two of this type from their fleet. Not only is this a competitive disadvantage, the wear and tear and the older business class product shows. In fact, the new flat-bed by AirAsia X may even prove to be a challenger, given the airline’s competitive fares.
I guess things will improve once the airline gets the new A380s over the next few years. The CEO recently mentioned that it will have a refurbished product, including a Premium Economy class.
Having said that, I think the excellent service and the genuine show of care more than makes up for the not-so-latest product. Overall, it was a pleasure experiencing Malaysian Hospitality, and I’d encourage you to give it a try.[photomosaic]